Julie Connelly, Environmental Supervisor, Retiring and Reflecting on a Successful Career

Nearly 7 years ago Julie saw the opportunity at the new assisted living in Schererville and joined the Residences at Deer Creek team. She recalls how she started in the cleaning business some 30 years ago, working for the school system in Beaver Dam, Kentucky where she’s deciding she’d like to be as she begins her retirement as of May 28. “I’ll be making up for lost time” laughs Julie, “ doing what I love to do—painting old furniture, making wreaths and flower arrangements and having time with my family.”  

She’s going to miss her Deer Creek family, co-workers and residents, and she admits a special fondness and connection to those in Memory Care. “I get attached to people,” says Julie. “I’ll miss talking with our residents during lunch. I loved having that opportunity to chat one on one, and I know they love that, too.” 

Julie’s perspective on working and cleaning in particular, is unique, inspiring, and a formula for successful living as well as career-building.  “People who are in the cleaning business tend to be thought of as ‘less than’ because ‘anyone can clean’—in fact, they tend to think of themselves in that way,” she says. She explains that’s not the case. Her responsibilities at Deer Creek included making sure the entire building stayed clean—resident apartments, public restrooms and hallways, meeting rooms, dining areas and she also had her own area, Memory Care , where she did the actual cleaning. The carpeting throughout the building is cleaned on a rotational basis she created. 

Her previous experiences in contract cleaning enabled her to be that ideal candidate for the job at Deer Creek. “ I had so much training; I knew how to work with chemical safety due to working on-site at NiSource and BP, but contract cleaning doesn’t always last that long. I wanted the stability the opportunity at Deer Creek gave me,” explains Julie. Most recently she learned more new techniques—how to keep the building, staff, and residents safe and protected with Covid cleaning processes.  

Julie is esteemed at Deer Creek, which goes back to her advice to those who think cleaning is a “less than” job. “It’s all in the attitude. You have to like what you do, that’s what makes a job important to you, and makes you want to do it. You must present as you are somewhere you want to be; be proud about it. You have to have big shoulders. Here in assisted living you have to think about what your mother or grandmother would like, how you would want them treated, and that goes back to doing what you like to do.” 

“Our housekeepers are tuned in to being on the front line here; that daily trash removal enables them to be an extension of the care team. If they see a resident is having an issue or not feeling well, or even suffering from a fall, they report it right away,” Julie notes. “Mentoring is also important from leadership; I’m so proud of Tracy who’s been here more than 3 years and has become my 2nd hand . She has all the good qualities, she knows how to order supplies, she’s dependable and it’s good that she’s moving up because the residents know her and she knows them and what they want. That’s why we’re here, to serve their needs.” 

While Julie enjoys more time with two daughters, son, 6 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren, she’s leaving behind another very large family who will miss her dearly. Good luck to you, Julie! Thank you for everything—all the things we saw you do, and the many more things you did for staff and residents that were done quietly, humbly, and with a beautiful desire to be of service.  Come back and visit us! 

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