Within the StoryPoint Senior Living community in Chesterton, Courtney Fokianos is adored by her staff and residents. Fokianos’ position as executive director lends many responsibilities, but her sole focus is on keeping the community happy and loving on everyone.
A graduate from Purdue University with a degree in communications, Fokianos never thought she would end up working in banking for 17 years before a career change brought her to StoryPoint Chesterton. She started off at a small bank in Lafayette collecting deposits from businesses in her community.
“With my communications degree, I was like, ‘Okay, what am I going to do with this?’ I thought I wanted to be an attorney, but that was not where my passion was, so it was an awesome experience at the bank,” said Fokianos.
She has been the executive director ever since StoryPoint Chesterton opened. In her role, she notonly maintains budgets, but also establishes a strong, positive connection and bond between staff and residents. Fokianos gets to focus on the residents in their moving process, communicating with their families and establishing that connection as well. As Fokianos always says, they are creating a team.
Email chains are a great way to make the community feel more like a team. Within the email chains, it is easy for the family to ask questions and give suggestions. If a resident is ever craving a specific meal, Fokianos is always sure to deliver that recipe from the family member to the StoryPoint Chesterton chef, allowing the resident to be filled with joy seeing their favorite foods being served.
“We picked a good one – Courtney is a quick thinker and a very compassionate leader,” said Jeannie Nowarita, community specialist for StoryPoint Chesterton. “You know she's someone that you want to listen to and learn from.”
The residents of StoryPoint Chesterton look up to Fokianos as family. They know that Fokianos has their best interests in mind because their wellbeing is always her top priority. If there is a resident struggling, she will notice and communicate to her faculty and the resident's family.
“I don't know of any other community that does that because they don't have time to,” said Nowarita. “Her sole focus of her job is to make sure the residents are happy, healthy, protected, and safe.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic began last year, the residents and staff were scared, but Fokianos was able to successfully keep everyone safe. StoryPoint Chesterton is extremely proud that they have not had anyone in their building test positive for COVID-19. Fokianos ensured that their staff had everything they needed and that everyone followed protocols, especially during the hardest times of the pandemic.
One of the most impactful moments Fokianos has witnessed is when a new resident left her prized possession cello when coming to StoryPoint Chesterton. As a retired professional musician, she was unable to go back home to Iowa and collect her things. This meant she had to leave her beloved cello at home, leaving her feeling pretty devastated.
To keep the residents happy, Fokianos quickly did something about it. Her and her team started brainstorming on how to retrieve the cello for musician. She got help from the resident’s community in Iowa and from colleagues to help bring the cello on a plane and bring it back to its owner.
“It was just amazing seeing her open that cello case and start touching it; it was like she was reconnecting with an old friend again,” said Fokianos. “She's been playing the cello and piano again; It's been wonderful to see residents like her come alive again after they've had struggles.”
Fokianos is undeniably committed and dedicated to her residents. She loves to tease the residents by saying they are committing to 30 years with Fokianos when they sign a lease, an inside joke the residents get a kick out of.
“They deserve an amazing experience and we get to be a part of making that,” said Fokianos. “Looking at these people, their experiences, their stories, I think you just feel lucky to be a part of that.”
To learn more about StoryPoint Chesterton, visit their website at www.storypoint.com/community/chesterton-in/.