Q&A with the Pro Baseball Player in Assisted Living

You might be getting tired of all my references to Josh Faiola(pictured here with the Cindy Griffiths-Novak and her family, the owners of The Belvedere Assisted Living) on this blog! I truly feel that there are so many valuable lessons to learn by reflecting on this story. I have had the good fortune of communicating with Josh after watching the ESPN broadcast on this unique host family. He clearly is an exceptional young man and serves an a fantastic role model for a great program.

What was your first thought when you found out your “host family” was an assisted living community?

Josh: My inital joke to my wife was that they must have thought I still needed rehab for my shoulder surgery.  She said it was because I listed “playing cards” as one of my hobbies.  In all seriousness though, I was definitely surprised to hear that because I had never heard of that happening before.  Most host families have kids and you’re in a basement or a spare bedroom so this was certainly an exception to that stereotype.  I was excited though because I knew it would be another experience that I would have never had without baseball.

How did the actual experience confirm or change your perceptions?

Josh: I would definitely have to say that I assumed the facility itself was going to feel like you were in a hospital and I was more than pleasantly suprised when I saw that was not even close to the feeling you get when you are in The Belvedere.  It feels like each room is a little condo and every room has a porch light above the door.  Most of the rooms even have little “porches” outside the front door where they have rocking chairs and benches.  The food there was also a lot better than I expected it would be.  The cooks work hard to put out a good variation of meals for the residents and I definitely enjoyed that while I was there.  I felt like it was going to be hard for me to not feel like an intruder no matter what they said but that wasn’t even close to the truth.  The residents and staff were more than welcoming and made me feel like I was a part of their community.

Do you have any thoughts about the concept of young people living in senior living communities?

Josh: I think that it would be a great idea as long as those young people realized what an interesting situation and opportunity it would be for them.  If someone was just looking for a place to live and not inteact, then they shouldn’t live in a senior community because they wouldn’t really get the full effect.  It’s the people who live and work at these places that make them such a fun place to be.  I do think that there was a positive impact on the residents of the Belvedere from having a young person around.  It was another way of expanding their lives and horizons outside of the confines of the Belvedere and anytime you can do that it is a good thing.  It’s a good thing for all of us.

What is your fondest memory from living at The Belvedere?

Josh: I’ve gotten that question numerous times and I just can’t put my finger on one single thing.  I enjoyed getting to know each of the residents and learning about their lives.  Watching the show, I found myself smiling when they showed the residents doing their various things.  I feel like I have a fond memory with each of the residents and the staff there which makes it hard to choose just one.  The overall experience was awesome and something that I’ll always cherish.

How did you perceive the residents felt about having a younger person in their “age restricted” environment?

Josh: Like I said before, I feel like the residents enjoyed having a younger person there.  I think there’s some enjoyment just from having a new person move into the facility but to also have that person be such a different demographic made it even more interesting.  I hope that it brought them back to fond memories of their younger days because they all led such interesting lives.

How do you feel your host family setting provided a different experience than your teammates in a more traditional setting?

Josh: I feel like the main difference between the experience of my host family setting and the traditional setting mostly lies in the number of people that I was able to come to know there.  Even in a traditional setting, you gain great friendships with your host family, it’s just that my host family had about 30-40 more people than normal thanks to  the residents, staff, and my main host family, Steve, Cindy, Ellie, and Zack.  Also, I might have learned a few more life lessons in my situation than I would have in a standard situation because I basically had 30 grandparents while I was there and we all know that as long as you’re willing to listen, you’ll always learn something from your grandparents.

Do you think this is something that should be replicated and repeated in other teams and settings?

Josh: I definitely think that this is something that should be replicated.  I’ve actually heard of a couple other guys who’ve done this too but apparently didn’t get nearly as much press as our story received.  It’s a situation that anyone running a team or having a similar need should explore when trying to place a person in temporary housing.

I read that you are working as a teacher, have you thought about ways you might integrate elders or senior living into your classroom?

Josh: I’m actually just a substitute teacher so I don’t get much say in what I do in the classroom.  It’s a cool idea that teachers should try to explore though.

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