Cyndie Bryant’s career at Koelsch Senior Communities began as a volunteer, went through a lengthy delay and then took off again after a period of deep professional despair.
As a young girl, Cyndie knew she wanted to be a nurse and would tag along with her aunt who worked at a Koelsch community in Longview, WA as a Certified Nursing Assistant. “I would help pass out ice water and assist with meals. I enjoyed helping people,” she says.
She remembers Koelsch Community co-founder Alice Schultz (Koelsch) giving her a lesson on how to make a bed. “She taught me to be precise, execute sharp corners and finish with a smooth, tight bed. I was just a kid, but Mrs. Schultz showed me how to do an excellent job in the service of another person.”
Fast forward: Cyndie put herself through nursing school juggling two jobs. She worked for 17 years as a nurse in a variety of settings, including the emergency room, hospital floors and nursing homes. “It wasn’t like my dream,” she says. “The ER was too hard on my heart. At hospitals, I struggled to build relationships; the faces were always changing. At many institutions, I watched patients get short-changed because somebody wanted to make a buck.”
Burnt out and disillusioned, Cyndie quit her job and told her family she would never work in nursing again.
Three weeks later, after every family member begged her to find an outlet for her considerable energy, Cyndie went on an interview for a part-time, night-shift nurse with the same company where she first worked as a volunteer, Koelsch Communities. Cyndie was hired on October 4, 1999.
“I went back to a place where I remembered feeling like I was making a difference,” she says. “A place where I learned even a simple job, like making the bed, could be performed with excellence.”
When the company learned about Cyndie’s background and experience, she was offered a Director of Nursing (now called Director of Resident Services) position instead. Cyndie’s career at Koelsch was off and running. New opportunities for professional growth were regularly offered to her. Within five years of that first interview, Cyndie was serving as both the Executive Director and the Director of Resident Services for two Longview communities, Canterbury Gardens (Memory Care) and Delaware Plaza (Assisted Living).
Work started to feel good again. “At Koelsch, if you needed something to provide the best care for a resident, you got it. Aaron Koelsch (current President and CEO) operated under the same philosophy as his mother Alice–the resident comes first. There was no scrimping. I enjoyed the feeling that I was doing right by my patients. I felt proud of my work and my company.”
She also relished the opportunity to interact with residents again. “I loved the relationships I found here,” she says. Remembering her own positive experience as a volunteer, Cyndie started periodically bringing along her teenage daughter April after school and during holidays and breaks.
As the company began to expand into its current eight-state market, Cyndie was asked to write the manual for all Koelsch Directors of Resident Services. Then she was offered the opportunity to travel to new communities to help hire and train nursing directors and staffs as the company’s Vice President of Memory Care and Resident Services.
“I’m passionate about setting a standard for excellence in resident care and then supporting our communities as they work to achieve it. We’re all on the same team at Koelsch. There’s camaraderie and loyalty here. And that can be hard to come by in the working world,” says Cyndie, who now enjoys an 18-year relationship with the company.
Déjà vu all over again: Meantime, another Bryant career was beginning to flourish at Koelsch. Cyndie’s daughter April, who tagged along with her mom as a teenage volunteer, was hired as a Receptionist. Earlier this year, April received her first promotion: Head Receptionist/Human Resources at Canterbury Gardens. “I’m delighted and proud that April has found the same opportunity for professional growth and satisfaction at Koelsch Communities that I did,” Cyndie says.