“Where else in our State Association, in the State, or in the Nation for that matter, can any community celebrate four Team Members who have individually served an organization for nearly 40 years each?” asked Dale Melton, CEO of Covenant Village, during a recent event to recognize resident and staff contributions to the life of the Gastonia-based retirement community.
The special occasion was the inaugural Evening of Thanksgiving and Gratitude, held on November 10, 2022, in conjunction with a year-long celebration of the 40th anniversary of Covenant Village.
“Tonight, we lift up four individuals whose collective tenure wraps arms, hearts, and souls around 158 years of combined service in our Village,” Melton continued, affectionately calling the quartet “Covenant Village’s own Incredible Four Tenures!”
The four staff members were recognized for employment of 38 years or more at Covenant Village, including one employee who was a member of the original staff when the first residents arrived 40 years ago.
Adding to his high praise for the Team Members’ extraordinary level commitment and dedication, Melton remarked that 21 more Team Members have dedicated 20-plus years to helping seniors age well at Covenant Village. “A testimony to our continued certification as an official ‘Great Place to Work,’ designation,” he said.
The 2022 “Incredible Four Tenures” included:
Kelly Rushing, Food & Nutrition
September 3, 1982—40 years; 2 months; 7 days
Ms. Rushing dedicated most of her career in the Covenant Village Health Center Dining Services. She joined the Independent Living Dining Room team in 2020 and continued to support the health center as a certified dietary manager. “She loves the Residents like family—and you can tell that feeling is reciprocated by the genuine connection she has with each one of them,” said Melton. “She goes above and beyond her job description to make sure each Resident receives what they need.”
Karen Jones, Finance
December 9, 1983—38 years; 11 months; 1 day
Ms. Jones began nearly four decades of service as an Accounts Receivable Clerk, and then transferred to the Health Center to serve as the receptionist with additional responsibilities for medical transportation. Five years later, she returned to the Accounts Receivable position to help with a short-term leave situation that lasted for the remainder of her career! In her frontline role, she also helped to address resident questions on Billing, cashing Checks, processing Month- and Year-end Reports, or even handling purchases for stamps. “Her customer-service smile and welcome draws everyone in and positioned her to be much loved by residents through the years,” said Melton, adding that with nearly 40 years in one organization she has seen a lot of change, including seven Finance Supervisors/Directors and three Executive Administrations. “She is the one constant!”
Lisa Davenport, Housekeeping
January 2, 1984—38 years; 10 months; 8 days
Ms. Davenport began her career at Covenant Village working in the Housekeeping Department. After Housekeeping, she became a Security Guard and then transitioned to Maintenance Secretary, while also working as a receptionist and providing Medical Transportation. “A true Multi-tasker!,” said Melton. Russ Craig, Senior Director of Property Services, offered her the position of Housekeeping Supervisor and affectionately nick-named her the Swiss Army Knife of Covenant Village. “She is an example—when given the opportunity—how Covenant Village Staff excel, on many fronts and in many ways, while providing quality service and leadership,” said Melton.
Alexis Neely, Food & Nutrition
September 27, 1984—38 years; 1 month; 14 days
Ms. Neely serves in the memory care wing of the Health Center. She has developed charts, processes, procedures, and vital documentation to help with and improve meal service throughout the years. Her supervisor says she is always bringing new ideas on how Covenant Village can better serve the unique needs of the residents. During her personal break time, she sits and talks with all the Garden Wing residents! After she serves a meal, you will often find her helping to feed residents who may need assistance. She is able to make connections with these residents through kindness, patience, and her empathetic manner. When asked why she would stay with one organization for so long, Neely simply said, “Covenant Village fit my life perfectly!”
In addition to recognizing staff longevity at the Evening of Thanksgiving and Gratitude, Covenant Village recognized twelve residents for the breadth of their residency and presented the inaugural Brenda Harris Award to four staff who were nominated for outstanding demonstration of the CV CARES core values in their work.