They say that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. Mark Stephens seems to have taken that message to heart recently.
Working in maintenance at Watermark Retirement Communities’ Woodbury Mews in Woodbury, NJ, where his daughter also works as a nurse, Stephens has made more than a few repairs since he started working there a few months ago. But the “Mayor of Mews” has made many more friends along the way.
“I’m a machinist by trade. I had a problem with my left hand, so I had to have surgery and it put me out of business,” Stephens said. “I love working here. I’ve never been in this kind of environment before — I’ve never worked with the elderly. We just have a good time.”
Every Sunday during football season, “the mayor” and his constituents gather for what you could call a “town hall” — Philadelphia Eagles games. This year, they had the privilege of watching their beloved “Birds” in the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs. Although the outcome left a bit to be desired for the Eagles, the watch party was a real winner.
“All of our floors have big screen TVs,” Stephens said. “I put them on all three stories, and we just gathered on the second floor, but this time we had 60 people. So we had to make a little more room.”
The 60 attendants enjoyed a fan-friendly spread of 10 to 15 pizzas, soft pretzels from Philadelphia, staff-made cookies and a variety of chips and dips. They also brought their impeccable Eagles knowledge. Resident and superfan Inez Maclean keeps a notebook with detailed notes from every Eagles game since she started following them in the late 20th century. She and Stephens not only have bonded over their love of the Eagles but also their love for life.
“He’s part of this family. We rely on him for so many things,” Maclean said. “He goes around all the activities and functions and just checks in to make sure that they’re being put on for us the way they should be. We’re a family away from our blood families, and this guy is a big part.”
It is apparent that those feelings are reciprocated by Stephens. It might have been a circuitous path to working in senior living, but he says he now is exactly where he’s supposed to be. In front of the television, watching the Eagles with some good friends.
“We’re just like old friends,” Stephens said. “They might be 20 years my elder, but … when I came here, I just really took to the residents, and now they’re like best friends of mine. [We’ll be] having some more fun times in the future.”
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