Maine retirement community helps students build foundation for their career

Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 6:36 PM EDT
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BAR HARBOR, Maine (WABI) - When it comes to starting jobs in healthcare and culinary arts most students may not think of a retirement community as a place to start their career path.

Birch Bay Retirement Village in Bar Harbor wants to change that and hosted 30 students from Hancock County Technical Center to visit and explore possible employment opportunities.

“It’s looking at how you can get into health care through Birch Bay in the hospital and how you can get into the service industry and restaurants,” said Peter Sullivan, Birch Bay Village’s executive director.

The program started a few years ago, when Birch Bay’s director saw their CNA’s needed help moving up.

“I know all my employees. I know who they are as people and what their goals are, and they were telling me, ‘I want to be a nurse, but I don’t know how to do it.’ And I was like, ‘I can help you with that,’” Sullivan said.

The health occupation students say they are glad to have the opportunity to explore the option.

“It feels so homey like it’s like you just really feel at home,” said Anna Kingshorn, HCTC Health Occupations student.

The care the employees provide in this retirement setting may be different from other places, too.

“Music Therapy? I’d never used well; I’d heard of music therapy but not in a nursing home setting. It’s just good. Like even if you work somewhere else exploring new places and you never know what other places have to offer, and there’s always different opportunities everywhere,” said Lexie Kearns, HCTC Health Occupations.

And the culinary students appreciate the personal atmosphere, too.

“If I worked here, then I would know everybody and I could get to know them and I would know what they liked, like if I worked in the kitchen,” said Destiny Littlefield, HCTC culinary student.

“Like people are more friendly here, since it’s like a more close knit./ And like it’s kind of a family here and everyone kind of treat each other with respect,” said Ren Clark, HCTC culinary student.

Sullivan says that there are opportunities for all sorts of careers.

“People think it’s just you come in here taking care of older people and that’s it. But there’s a lot of aspects to it. You want to be in activities and life enrichment and psychology or music, health care, engineering, mechanical services, groundskeeping. You name it. We have a realm for that,” Sullivan said.

And he’s thrilled to help them have a chance to advance their careers.

“I’m so proud and you know it’s an awesome feeling to be able to help somebody do what they want to do and get them the feeling of really accomplishing their dreams,” Sullivan added.

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