As CEO of Edgewood Retirement Community and, now, The Baldwin, Marlene Rotering always welcomes the opportunity to talk about the residents and the community she loves — as well as to talk about how her dream of building a new senior living community in New Hampshire is coming to life. Recently, Marlene took some time to share how the idea for The Baldwin was born, the role of prospective residents, how Edgewood is meeting the challenge of Covid-19, and her hopes for the future.
Thanks for sharing this time with us, Marlene.
Marlene: “Oh, it’s absolutely my pleasure!”
Why don’t you start by telling us how the idea for The Baldwin came about?
Marlene: “A lot of people ask me where The Baldwin came from and I love to share this story. One Friday, I took my Edgewood senior leadership team out for a teambuilding day. The team wanted to go bowling and found a bowling alley in Lynnfield, Massachusetts. We pulled into the parking lot and I quickly noted there were restaurants, the bowling alley, a grocery store, convenience store and housing all in very close proximity. As I stepped out of my car, I looked around and thought, ‘This would be awesome for senior housing!’ I was so caught up in dreaming about a senior living community set in a place just like this, that I was completely unaware I was standing in the middle of the parking lot — until my team yelled for me to get out of the way of the oncoming cars. (Yes, I’m a bit of a dreamer.)
“I asked the team what they thought about having a senior living community in a setting like this and they, too, thought it was a great idea. Then they went about the day enjoying each other’s company, but I was fixated on this idea of what I now know is called a mixed-use setting or a live/work/play development.”
So, clearly, you pursued that dream. What did you do next?
Marlene: “The following Monday, I reached out to the chairman of the Edgewood Board and asked if I could please look into this idea further. Fast forward, the Edgewood Board not only gave me the go-ahead to research the idea, but also gave me some names of commercial realtors so I could begin to look at possible locations.
“Having been a Granite Stater since 1998, I really wanted to build senior housing in New Hampshire, but didn’t think the state would have anything as progressive as a live/work/play setting. And then my commercial realtor took me to meet the owners of Woodmont Commons, an up-and-coming live/work/play development in Londonderry, New Hampshire. I could not believe my eyes as they shared their hopes and dreams for their community, which included restaurants, retail stores, a grocery store and a senior housing community. Lucky for me, one of the owners lived near Edgewood and already knew of our great reputation.”
Talk about serendipity!
Marlene: “Yes! At an Edgewood Board meeting, I told the Board I believe the team, culture and financial strength of Edgewood is too good and too strong to only serve such a small segment of the market. And I told them I wanted to expand our culture and services to a greater community of seniors. After much discussion, the necessary market studies, and financial evaluations, the Edgewood Board approved the idea of building a sister community in Londonderry, New Hampshire.”
Where did the name “The Baldwin” come from?
Marlene: “I researched the land where the community would be built and found out that a type of apple called a Baldwin was once grown on the land. I loved the idea of tying the name of the community to the land and history of the area — and so the name was chosen.”
How does one begin to build a community from a blank slate?
Marlene: “We pulled together a stellar team of individuals to get The Baldwin off the ground. The design of The Baldwin has been better than I could have ever imagined, but that’s not even the best part. The best part is that our culture of partnering with residents is what’s making The Baldwin so spectacular.
“We spent a lot of time talking with prospective residents. They gave us immediate feedback on what they like, and they shared some of their concerns. Even though I knew making some changes to address their concerns might delay us a bit, being responsive to residents is what has always made Edgewood so special — and so different from our competition. The Baldwin has improved from that initial idea because of the thoughts and ideas of others helping to influence it in a positive way and bring it to life.”
And how do you feel about your dream now?
Marlene: “I still remember that day, standing in Lynnfield and dreaming of this community. More than anything, my desire was to expand Edgewood’s mission of serving seniors in a very unique way. We know how to partner with residents, and we believe in empowering them to be the architects of their own well-being.”
What does that mean exactly?
Marlene: “It means we listen to residents’ needs, hopes and desires. If we can accommodate those, we make every effort to do so. We don’t make residents fit into our system of services and rules. We follow all the appropriate state and federal regulations to create a safe foundational base, and then we develop programs and services based on resident input. Every place has to have some guidelines, of course, but not every place understands that the relationship between management and residents is what creates community, turns it into a home and makes it truly special. I hope someday residents of The Baldwin will come up to me like they do at Edgewood and say, ‘Moving into this community is the best decision I ever made.’”
What has your team learned while managing Edgewood during this time of pandemic?
Marlene: “Covid-19 has demonstrated many things to us as managers. First and foremost, we always knew our staff loved the residents we serve, but Covid-19 has shown us the true extent of their love, care and compassion. Edgewood’s location in North Andover, Massachusetts, put us ‘in the thick of things,’ but our staff did everything in their power to keep residents safe, healthy, comfortable and even entertained. In return, Edgewood residents took it upon themselves to raise money for our employees who were working so hard, and they wrote some of the most heartfelt letters. Their appreciation and gratitude made those difficult months bearable.
“Did we have to implement some guidelines during Covid-19? Absolutely! But we did it all in concert with the Resident Council. So far, we’ve created more than ten videos and sent more than 31 (and counting) letters to residents to keep them well-informed. We’re still not done with Covid-19, but with the trust, love and mutual respect that exists between residents, staff and management, we’re confident that, together, we will prevail!”
What are your hopes for The Baldwin?
Marlene: “My hope is that, one day, I will get to sit with residents by the reflecting pool at The Baldwin, watching the beautiful sunsets, enjoying each other’s company and appreciating all that New Hampshire has to offer. There’s no way to measure the satisfaction that comes from empowering seniors to truly enjoy the best years of their lives.”
To learn more about The Baldwin’s connection with our sister community, Edgewood in North Andover, MA, please visit the About Us section of our website. To speak with a member of our team, call us at 603.404.6080.