Marisa Raffaelli wins prestigious LeadingAge Award

Woman outside with caregiver

Marisa Raffaelli hit the ground running. As the new life enrichment manager at Briarwood Healthcare Center of Friendship Village senior living community, she didn’t waste any time using her more than 15-years’ experience in activities for older adults, as she set about planning, engaging and inspiring residents and her team. 

It was, therefore, fitting, but not surprising that Marisa won the Rising Star Award at the LeadingAge Illinois State Conference last week. The prestigious honor is bestowed upon an enthusiastic, dedicated, and successful individual within their first 24 months of employment at a retirement community. LeadingAge requirements state that the individual must have “consistently demonstrated a strong work ethic, commitment, initiative, leadership and the ability to be a team player. This person routinely goes above and beyond what is expected.”

Friendship Village is a Life Plan Community for independent seniors, as well as providing assisted living, memory support, and rehabilitation and skilled care in its Briarwood Healthcare Center.

“It can be a bit daunting, and sometimes a bit overwhelming becoming a team member in a large and diverse Life Plan Community with a commitment to change and a passion for excellence,” said Carla Smith, assistant lifestyle director for Friendship Village, who nominated Marisa for the award. Carla added that reflecting the culture at the senior living community, Marisa was “driven by a desire to make the residents’ days meaningful…she was a great fit for an organization that constantly strives to create a person-centered experience for its residents.”

“What I like best about my job is bringing joy and excitement to the residents, and working, coaching and mentoring my staff on how to best engage our residents in activity programs,” Marisa said.

Friendship Village has a history of community outreach upon which Marisa is drawing. She works actively to recruit volunteers for Briarwood and welcomes children, community members, and dogs to enrich the residents’ lives. She also promotes input and interaction with the residents’ loved ones.

Carla said that Marisa’s success in her role is largely due to her outgoing nature and her focus on developing relationships and teamwork to take full advantage of the unique opportunities a large community such as Friendship Village has to offer.”

“Working in health care is not just a job for me; it’s a calling. I love people and always have. And when I see our residents smiling and happy and am able to help bring joy to their lives, it makes me feel like I have accomplished something big,” Marisa said. “Working in this field is hard, but I love it.”

“LeadingAge receives many nominations of individuals who are really the best of the best in the industry for the Rising Star Award. We are so proud that Marisa was recognized for her efforts and success at bringing joy to our residents’ lives,” said Jill Steco, lifetyles director for Friendship Village. “As she rises to each occasion and challenge, her impact grows. She will be someone to watch in coming months as her light shines brighter, inspiring excellence…the definition of a rising star.”

Read the story as it appears in the Tribune.

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Posted on Mar 28, 2019