Our Interview with NAAP: 4 Takeaways

When the President of the National Association of Activity Professionals asks to interview you and your company- you say YES!

As Activity Directors we are constantly searching for new entertainment for senior living facilities. How do we find new entertainment? Our interview with NAAP touched on that question and many more.

Having the opportunity to share about www.willGather.com and our vision of the future was so fun. Check out our interview HERE.

Here’s a little recap of our time together:

Tell us a little bit about your background and why you started willGather?

Having my Grandma live with our family when I was younger, I was able to experience life with her. Seeing the importance of having a full and positive life was a gift. With that insight, I got my degree in Social Gerontology and received my Activity Directors Certification with NCCAP. I worked as a Director at a large senior living facility in Minneapolis for many years. A large part of my job was to plan events and hire entertainment and vendors to come into our facility. The list I had used was passed down over the years, often out of date and needed to be updated. I found I wanted to be able to just go online and find all of my entertainers and vendors. Thus, the idea for willGather was born.

What is willGather and how does it work?

First, we are an online resource that holds information of various entertainers, educators, and vendors that provide events specifically for the senior living industry. We are not a booking agency. Our Activity Directors have the ability to search, find, gather ideas and contact those vendors directly.

Secondly, we are a national platform that focuses on your exact location. If you sign up and do not see many vendors in your area- send us your list and we’ll get them added as we are not fully grown in each state.

We host 6 main categories on our site: Entertainment, Creative Arts, Health and Wellness, Spirituality, Education and Everything else.

Our site serves two main clients- our Activity Directors and our Entertainers and vendors. Our Entertainers and vendors create and manage their own profiles and have the ability to update their information, events, pictures and websites.

Most importantly, we first and foremost believe in community. Being a resource for each other is important. It’s evident by various social media forums that so many of us use to request information from each other. We grow our list by the recommendation of our peers- we are better together!

What do you see as the biggest challenge and opportunity in programming in the next few years?

As more Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age, the industries that serve them are shifting the way they conduct business. This generation has become more tech-saavy and interested in the ability to continue life-long learning. We’d love to see services grow and evolve to keep up with the higher demands and needs of the residents and clients. The ability to adapt and be creative in meeting those needs will be a fun challenge and opportunity for growth. Using platforms like willGather will allow us the resources to find services to meet those needs.

Adapting to limited budgets is another challenge. having resources that help us make wise decision with those limited funds is helpful. Being able to make informed decisions on who you hire to come into a facility will allow you to use those funds wisely.

I believe that Life Enrichment programs and departments are actually revenue generating. Activity Directors give life and purpose to a facility that can ultimately boost moral and census. Our life enrichment programs also provide content for social media and really share a story and positive voice out into the community.

How do you see technology fitting in for an industry/ position that has largely hasn’t relied on technology or software as a service/ platform previously?

Technology is definitely changing how we experience life today. For example if someone would have told me a few years ago that we would get in the car with a stranger and they would drive us somewhere- like Uber – we would have thought No WAY!  Of course, we are not like these companies but it’s an example of how the experiences we have now are affected by technology.

We are in a people business and serving the people that we care about and providing them with life giving opportunities. Let’s use technology to bring all of those resources together to create Community! Many industries and companies today use software and resources to assist in doing their job or making their jobs easier. There are so many great resources like Activity Connection and Pinterest that assist in giving us information to do our jobs. We are not recreating what those other great companies are doing. We are focusing on our niche with is focused on bring the community into the facility (our entertainers and vendors) and bringing our residents out into the community (our outing guides).

Thank you NAAP for the great interview and we are looking forward to the national conference next month!

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