From the Director of Marketing: WWII nurses, pizza parties, and coming home

December 18, 2023

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Cara Aungst

This summer, a friend sent me a job post with a note: “This looks like you.” It was for the Director of Marketing at Valley View. “Boy, that looks like a cool job,” was my first thought. My second thought — one that flooded over me — took me by surprise.

I was 15 the first time I worked at Valley View. “Worked” is a generous term. I was a volunteer, and my tasks were to a) decorate bulletin boards for each new season and b) bring residents to the Activity Room for pizza parties.

Cara as a volunteer in the 1990s

The bulletin boards were lavish, messy productions that left mountains of construction paper and masking tape behind. That job didn’t last long. My second — pizza party taxi driver — was a better fit. And it was how I met one of my very best friends. Sara Raymer lived in the 200 neighborhood. She had been a WWII nurse, and told the wildest, most eye-opening stories that my 15-year-old homeschooled self had EVER heard. I adored her.

Before long, she and her sister, Marguerite, came to my house for the holidays. Sara’s outlandish stories fit just right in our rowdy house filled with kids and dogs. I’d been blessed with grandparents and older adults all my life, but when I met Sara, I found a wonderful friend.

When I walked into Valley View for my interview this summer, I was unprepared for the feeling that washed over me. In the 30 years since I listened to Sara’s war stories, Valley View has grown and changed. But that feeling of HOME was exactly the same.

It’s only been a handful of weeks since I got a key to an office here at Valley View, but I’ve already lost count of how many people have walked into the main entrance and stopped in their tracks. “It’s just so … so… different than any retirement community I’ve been in,” they say.

“Believe me, I know,” I tell them. I think Sara would agree.

This article is from the Fall 2023 View from the Valley Newsletter. You can see the full issue here:

Fall 2023