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Meet Penny and Les: Staff Superstars at Real Living

Penny started working at Real Living in July 2022 as Epsom Village's Village Assistant. While she hasn't been with Real Living for long, she has quickly become one of the most beloved staff members at the village. Penny excels not only in organizing activities and major events on the social calendar but also in effortlessly connecting with people and understanding their needs and preferences.

Penny is part of a very close-knit team at Epsom Village's reception, alongside Village Manager Lillian Fletcher and receptionist Anna McDonald.

Penny has ample experience working in prominent companies such as Telecom, Qantas, and HP. Joining Real Living marked her transition into a smaller, more intimate work environment where she is thriving: "From the very start, I felt like I belonged here, like another piece of the puzzle. I often tell people that I'm honoured to work at Real Living. I can make a difference in people's lives, and the residents here provide me with endless opportunities for growth and learning. It's a very fulfilling role.”

Penny organizes at least two fundraising events per year, with the Pink Ribbon breakfast being one of the most successful thus far.

Penny isn't the only staff member at Epsom Village who has gained more popularity than expected. Les was hired as a Maintenance Officer in October 2021, but his association with Real Living dates back to the eighties when he assisted with the plastering of the 130 villas at Pakuranga Park. This time around, the Activities Team at the village quickly noticed that Les possesses a hidden talent beyond his maintenance duties: when he dressed up for Halloween 2021, he was immediately recruited as a performer for the village's most significant events.

Les' talent for dressing up was discovered during Halloween 2021, and since then, he has become a beloved entertainer among the residents.

Last week, Les doubled up as the Easter Bunny to supervise (for the third year in a row!) the Cornhole competition that the village hosts to celebrate Easter. The competition is a great deal of fun, but even more so because Les brings his wit and sense of humor to the occasion.

Les and Penny thoroughly enjoy being an integral part of the social events at Real Living.

Les works very closely with the in-house builder at Epsom Village, Laki. They first met a long time ago while playing rugby on opposing teams. When asked about their past competitions, Les responds diplomatically, saying, “Oh, I don’t remember; it was such a long time ago!” On the other hand, Laki seems to have a better memory and confidently recalls himself on the winning side. Despite their rivalry on the field, Les and Laki are good friends, which is why Laki has found himself joining in on dressing up on more than one occasion.

One of Les and Laki’s most popular performances was when they portrayed Santa Claus and the Elf for Christmas 2021.

It’s fair to say that Epsom Village’s staff members never expected to dress up so much for their roles, but they all agree that it’s a great opportunity to bond with the residents and share a good laugh. Les and Penny have hosted two Christmas parties so far. In 2022, they served as the MCs of a highly successful Oscars-themed party, complete with an entertaining Oscars speech that had the residents bursting into laughter.

Miss Claus and the Grinch (with a long list of naughty residents) were a hit as MCs for the 2022 Christmas party.

The party was so successful that Les and Penny reprised their roles as MCs in 2023, this time portraying Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in a Mystery Christmas Party. The residents were once again amazed by Les and Penny’s acting skills, as they were quickly drawn into a murder mystery-themed party of professional quality. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson enjoyed the event as much as the residents, as Penny eloquently puts it: 'I often think to myself, how lucky I am to be working at Epsom Village. I’m kept very busy, and no two days are ever the same. I have a great team supporting all the ideas, and I have the flexibility to implement these ideas according to my vision.”

At Real Living, we consider ourselves incredibly fortunate to have exceptional staff members like Penny and Les at Epsom Village. Their dedication, creativity, and passion for making a difference in the lives of our residents are truly commendable. Penny's ability to connect with people and organize unforgettable events, coupled with Les's talent for bringing joy and laughter to every occasion, enriches the community spirit of Epsom Village.

If you’d like to know more about joining our community contact Lyn on 021 845 524 or email Lyn.Ellis@realliving.co.nz

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