Dining From a New Point of View

,Since The Glebe opened 10 years ago, students from Lord Botetourt and James River High Schools have been numbered among the employees. Many of the students are servers in the Allegheny Dining Room—residents and students greatly enjoy their friendships and visiting with one another during dinner. Some of these relationships have extended beyond The Glebe, with residents attending school sporting events. The Glebe also hosts a pre-prom reception for servers and their friends.

Earlier this summer, Morgan Smith and Miranda Brizendine, members of the dining services staff at The Glebe suggested to dining room manager Sam Long that several servers have dinner (on their own time) with the residents to experience dining from their point of view. Sam and his staff agreed that this would be an excellent training opportunity to enhance their service to residents and guests. The week long program was scheduled with fifteen staff and forty residents participating. Following the conclusion of the program, everyone who participated had very positive comments to share.  Pictured at the left are several servers and residents who participated:   (starting from the top left) Nick Weirup, Shelby Houston, John Coffey, Lexi Pollard, Samuel Long,Dorothy Coffey, Don Johnson, Morgan Smith, Peggy Johnson, Brieanne Hamilton, Cheyenne Mason, Lucas Palmer.

Shelby Houston said, “I joined Mr. and Mrs. John Coffey and Mrs. and Mrs. Maphis. There was never a dull moment, and they made me feel special, asking about my family, future plans and places I’ve been. After dinner, Mr. and Mrs. Coffey kindly invited me to their cottage. I was given a tour and personal concert of The Glebe’s “theme song,” with Mr. Coffey playing the piano and Mrs. Coffey singing. They not only opened their doors to me but also their hearts. They shared personal stories and memories that touched me. I came home and couldn’t wait to share my experience with my parents. I am so thankful to forward to sharing dinner with other residents in the future.”

Dorothy Coffey said, “John and I have been members of The Glebe for more than a year and a half. We enjoy every activity offered in which we have an interest. Life in our cottage has been all that we had hoped. The training program envisioned by Sam Long and the Dining Services department was a high point of our experience thus far. We were very pleased to get to know Shelby personally and had a helpful exchange. If there had been any concern that the appropriate distance between staff and residents might be compromised, our experience proved that professionalism was in no way challenged.  We hope that the program will be repeated often and shared with other sister communities.”

Morgan Smith said, “I enjoyed learning about each of the residents and was eager to see what our service looked like through their eyes. All in all, I had a great experience with the service from our staff and the interaction with our residents.”

Don and Peggy Johnson, who have lived at The Glebe for 10 years, greatly enjoyed the experience. Peggy said, “Don and I have been so surprised and delighted at how the young people have responded to the residents. It was so nice to meet our servers on a more personal level. We hope they will do this again at least once or maybe twice a year. They do have other commitments in their busy lives, but it is good for us to learn what young people are planning for the future.”

Ally Houston shared that, “It was one of the best experiences I have had working at The Glebe. It was a chance to get to know the residents on a personal level and learn more about them and their backgrounds. I hope to do it again soon.”

Billy Beasley commented that he and his wife Robbie agreed that it was an outstanding thing to do.” Billy, who was employed for 62 years at NASA Langley Research Center at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, VA, shared about his career. He and Robbie also enjoyed learning about the interests of the servers.

Lee and Virginia Waldron and Latane and Anne Brugh agreed that this was a wonderful experience. Lee said, “Virginia and I enjoyed the experience and got to know the server better with extended conversation.” Anne said, “Latane and I enjoyed spending time with our delightful servers and seeing their response to being served rather than serving.”

Sam was pleased with the comments from the servers related to suggestions to enhance service. One of the servers mentioned that she will be extra careful to be sure residents have finished each course before bringing their next course so they will not feel rushed. All the servers who participated noticed different things about noise levels in the dining room, serving etiquette and food taste, presentation and temperature. From the feedback Sam received, he said, “I was able to remind our staff to be aware of noise levels when setting and removing dishes from tables, being friendly and talkative to the residents while being efficient in their service, etc. However, the experience the servers had while dining with the residents could not have been learned in any other way; they were able to view dining from the resident’s perspective and it has enhanced our service to the residents.” Sam hopes to continue the program annually.