What Make-A-Wish CEO Billi Zielinski Learned In Her First Job As A Nursing Home Housekeeper

Written by: Brady Drake

Current Position: President and CEO, Make-A-Wish North Dakota

First Job: Housekeeper with James Valley Nursing Home

1. Stay Curious

Everyone has a story to tell and if you are willing to listen and learn, the older generation has much to share and teach us.

2. Be Prepared

Getting old does not discriminate. Living to our golden years will happen to all of us…if we are lucky. This experience informed how I may hope to live out my life.

3. Teamwork

Go the extra mile, it is never crowded. I was part of this interconnected circle of care and every role in that facility contributed to the quality of life of the residents.

4. Be Kinder Than Necessary

While I wheeled around a cleaning cart and was more behind the scenes, any interaction I had could make an impact so I needed to bring my best self to work every day. Everyone appreciates a gracious word or a smile.

5. Empathy

I put myself in their shoes – thinking about their journeys. It made me think about the continuum of life and how at that stage of the line, they were looking back and reflecting where as a teenager, I was only looking forward with anticipation.

6. Celebrate

A bouquet of flowers, school kids singing carols, a milestone birthday, and other joyous activities mean the world and everyone can be a part of celebrating. Rejoice!

7. Relationships

Human connections are so very important throughout life. From family to the stranger cleaning your room, we choose to engage and create those opportunities for bonding.

8. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Everyone was once a young adult and every detail, from big to small, up to this very moment in time, makes us who were are. Those moments are finite like life itself – live fully and make memories to think about later!

9. Compassion

Looking back, this experience furthered my desire to care for others in life. Throughout my career, one common thread is my service to others from the elderly and people with disabilities to people in a foreign country to children with critical illnesses.

10. Dignity

Everyone deserves a clean bathroom.

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Brady is the Editorial Director at Spotlight Media in Fargo, ND.