By Jim Price
In some ways, Lakeview’s Resident Council is a paradox: although it’s an elective body, it passes no legislation, sets no laws, and issues no directives. In reality, the Council’s most important powers lie in discussion, persuasion and above all, communication.
The Council is the key conduit between residents and Lakeview’s administrative officers and support staff. It’s a lively forum in which concerns are aired, and issues of significant importance to residents are discussed and debated—from dining room menus to landscaping concerns to elevator safety. And it represents a great opportunity for every Lakeview resident to represent his or her neighbors, to meet and make new friends throughout the Lakeview campus, and to learn and even improve upon, in a variety of instances, Lakeview’s day-to-day operation.
“The Resident Council is a great opportunity to partner with the Lakeview administration and support staff to help improve the lives of Lakeview residents,” according to Lakeview CEO Jamie Frazier. “It’s also a good way to further enhance the extensive programs and services Lakeview offers. And anyone can play. Volunteer for the Resident Council, and you’ll not only have a chance to help and serve residents in a variety of ways . . . you’ll have an inside view of how Lakeview works. It’s a wonderful learning experience to share with your friends and neighbors.”
Council members represent Heritage, Southridge, Northpointe, Gardenview and the Cottages. Each member elected serves a two-year term, and terms are staggered so that there are veterans and newcomers on the Council at any given point in time.
In fact, a list of Council members, the areas they represent, and their respective responsibilities provides a good picture of the range and issues and topics the Council regularly addresses.
According to Bill Leach, who chairs the Nominating Committee, seven of the 13 positions on the Council will be open for the election, which will be held between Jan. 13-31, 2014. Open positions will be one each from Heritage, Northpointe, Southridge and Gardenview, and three from the garden cottages and villas. And it’s easy to run for a position; simply contact the current council member representing your area for more information.
Roger Blessing, the Council Chair, says working on the council can be both fun and difficult—occasionally at the same time, especially when it involves reviewing and discussing residents’ concerns, ideas and suggestions. “With more than 700 residents at Lakeview, everybody has a better idea on how things can be done,” he says, laughing, “and often they’re right.”
But just as often, or even more so, ideas and suggestions simply aren’t feasible, for whatever reason or reasons. Our job is to take resident input, review it, and then make sure it gets to the right place, either in the administration or with the staff.
We leave it to them to exercise their best judgment, but it’s important to avoid delays and ensure that the right person winds up addressing the issue. We don’t want anything going off in the wrong direction . . . that just frustrates people.”
Council Secretary Ginger Kenney says a wide range of discussions takes place at each meeting. She should know, since her job is to keep a record of what takes place.
“Much of the meetings involve updates from all the neighborhoods – the high-rises, Gardenview, and the cottages and villas,” she explains. “We also keep abreast of staff and administration activities, review items from suggestion boxes, discuss upcoming campus-wide activities, and hear reports from various committees. It can be pretty interesting, because you get a good education on what’s going on at Lakeview beyond your own neighborhood.”
Ginger says she’s not planning on running in the next election, but she encourages anyone with an interest in representing their neighbors on the council, meeting new people, keeping informed and learning more about how Lakeview works, to run for the Council, or nominate someone they know who is of the same mind.
“It can be a very rewarding and exciting opportunity,” she emphasizes.
Bill Leach, who is in the second year of his term as treasurer, believes that the council offers good experiences, interesting issues, and great opportunities to solve residents’ concerns.
“It’s a great way to learn how Lakeview works,” he says, “and I’ve gotten to know a lot of the people in the administration and the support staff. I also chair the Financial Review Committee, which is another great source of learning about the Lakeview operation.”
Ralph Ingebritson, co-treasurer with Bill and still in the first year of his term, says his council service has been among the most positive experiences at Lakeview, along with his volunteer work.
Ralph is especially excited about collecting donations for the Employee Christmas Fund.
“I collect money for this purpose at the end of each month, but it’ll be in the next two to three months when the bulk of the offerings come in,” he says.“I take council membership seriously; people elected me to the position, so I figure I do my job and address resident concerns as best I can. I don’t hesitate to help out when I’m asked. It’s an opportunity to give back, and a great way to get to know other residents, as well as members of the Lakeview staff.”
There are three common benefits that council members point to in their resident council experiences: “keeping up with what’s going on”, meeting new people, and learning more about Lakeview’s operations.
Eldor Kaiser, devotional chair, believes following the staff reports and learning about Lakeview activities is the best part of being on the council.
Jean Elias, resident suggestion coordinator and What-Not Shop liaison agrees wholeheartedly, saying, “Serving on the council is both enjoyable and fruitful. I feel like we get things done and find solutions to residents’ concerns.”
Ann Dickerson, resident welcome and suggestions coordinator, is a relative newcomer, serving for about four months in her first year on the council. But she is a veteran volunteer—at Lakeview and elsewhere at her church, and with the Senior Computer Users Group of Greater Kansas City—and recognizes a good learning opportunity when she sees it.
“I was very pleased to find that everyone on the Council is of the same mind: to make things better,” she says. “And I really like knowing what’s going on elsewhere at Lakeview.”
Tom Kirkwood, program chair and a resident suggestion coordinator for Southridge, appreciates the chance to get involved with and relate to residents all over the Lakeview campus through his participation on the Resident Council.
“I think we get a lot accomplished, especially with the support of the Lakeview administration and staff,” he says. “Sometimes it seems to take a lot of time, but the council is a good place for all of us to apply our expertise and work together to either get solutions to residents’ concerns, or make sure their ideas and suggestions are directed to the right places. As program chair, the challenge is to keep abreast of that calendar! Activities and functions come along pretty quick, so we always have to be looking ahead.”
Lee Will, resident suggestion coordinator, and Elinor Swartz, resident suggestion coordinator and dining committee liaison, both enjoy knowing about current events and activities, and both highlight “communication” as the key to a successful council operation.
Sitting on the Library Board as well as on the Council’s Nominating and Elections Committee, Mike Mueller appreciates the opportunity to “speak our minds in representing our residents” and to meet the challenge of getting things done.
Jamie Frazier holds great respect for council members and the work they do.
“The Resident Council offers an ongoing and timely opportunity for the members and Lakeview management to communicate on many different issues related to the operations and programs of Lakeview Village.
“That includes such things as reports on Channel 4, the Dining Committee, Library and the What-Not Shop; neighborhood meetings; management responses to resident suggestions or concerns; Community Life programs; Community Services issues; financial and marketing updates; and many other items that may affect our residents campus-wide.
“We’re thankful for our council members’ willingness to serve and for the countless hours they volunteer . . . they are selfless and do a wonderful job representing their respective constituencies.”
If the Resident Council sounds like the kind of positive environment in which you’d enjoy taking part, don’t hesitate to contact a current council member, or call Cheryl Howell, executive assistant, at 744-2463.