Employee Spotlights

Behind the scenes with Megan Peterson, a life enrichment pro

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Real stories as told by people who live, work and volunteer at Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS).

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St. Andrew’s Village residents enjoyed a special Mystery Dinner Theatre on St. Patrick’s Day in Mahtomedi, Minn. Days in advance, invitations were delivered with the announcement:

Emerald City is hosting the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration at Town Hall. Every fairy, gnome, and leprechaun are getting excited to enjoy fun Irish party games and music! Everyone is hoping to avoid drama this year, as these celebrations are notorious for bringing out the worst in folks. This is where our story begins.

Today we hear from Life Enrichment Director Megan Peterson (pictured: second from left) who takes us behind the scenes and tells us how the story ends.

Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS): Tell us, Megan, how did this amazing event unfold?
Megan Peterson (MP): I suppose it started back in 2019 when I had the idea to host a Murder Mystery themed dinner after watching the movie Clue one night. I enlisted leaders and my life enrichment team to be actors, and we had a script, costumes and a themed meal all ready. And then COVID shut us down. A week before we were supposed to perform!

We tried again in 2021, but due to an outbreak of COVID in our community, we had to postpone again. After that, we took a pause. I thought it was just never going to happen.

Then in 2022, I thought it was time to try again. I re-wrote the script entirely and got more staff to perform in a Gatsby-themed Murder Mystery Dinner in November. The culinary team knocked it out of the park, and the actors crushed their roles. It was the most fantastic night for the actors and the residents!

The next day, they asked when we would do the next one!

costumes
I knew we had to do it, so right after Christmas, my team and I — plus the culinary team — started planning a St. Patrick’s Day themed Mystery Dinner. We knew it had to be even better than the last, so we worked the script around leprechauns, elves, fairies and gnomes. More staff were asking to play parts, so this one had a bigger cast who really got into their roles and their costumes. The Wednesday before St. Patrick’s Day, we all performed “Who Stole The Pot of Gold” to a sold out audience!

PHS: Megan, this is stellar work and such creativity! How have the residents responded?

MP: Oh, they are crazy for it! After the first one, they kept asking when the next one would be. When they get their mystery invite, it suggests the specific attire they should wear, and they take a theme and run with it! They get very excited to dress up — almost as much as the actors!

This time, wearing their St. Patty’s Day best, residents cracked the case of the missing pot of gold. In the end, Sparkles the Fairy was found guilty, and the residents left that evening with full bellies of Irish food, full hearts and memories of another incredible night of acting from the St. Andrew’s staff.

PHS: Megan, where did you learn to do this? And why do you choose to bring your talents to PHS?

MP: Before coming to PHS, I worked as an event planner, so I really thrive on the bigger events we host here at St. Andrew’s Village. I enjoy planning and working with other departments and love when my vision comes to fruition. I especially love when the residents and staff feel fulfilled.

PHS residents

I started as the life enrichment director here four years ago. I didn’t want to be away from my kids on the nights and weekends, so I stopped working in event management. My cousin told me I would be good at life enrichment, so I applied, got the job and haven’t looked back.

I appreciate the rest of my life enrichment team and really enjoy meeting the residents and hearing their stories. I think about my grandma who lived in assisted living when she passed and how much she looked forward to the daily activities. I realized that I could make that thing, or host that event, or play that simple game with someone and totally make their day.

Interested in a PHS career?

Like Megan and the staff at St. Andrew’s Village, you could also help enrich the lives of older adults, working at a PHS community near you. We always have a wide range of positions open in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin, for a variety of careers. Whether you’re starting out, at mid-career level or looking for a post-retirement career, we encourage you to apply to join our team at preshomes.org/careers and follow our blog.

megan

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