April 23, 2020 —As part of a system-wide initiative, Kendal at Lexington recently participated in “Diversity Month,” with events and activities designed to celebrate diversity throughout May and June. We caught up with KaLex’s Human Resource Generalist Jason Bunn to ask about the activities and hear how the greater Kendal community got involved.
“We all know there’s value in the differences in people,” Jason says. “We don’t want everyone to be the same and we want to illustrate why those differences are important.”
Getting to Know Each Other
In addition to specific events, there were two continuous activities that both staff members and residents could participate in to win prizes: Diversity BINGO and a survey to guess the differences between two staff members, who are identical twins, Iesha and Kiesha. The survey, while having the added benefit of encouraging community members to get to know Iesha and Keisha, attempted to illustrate that even two people who look exactly alike have important differences that should be celebrated.
Diversity BINGO was held throughout the last two weeks of May, with BINGO cards designed to help participants learn more about their coworkers or fellow residents. Each box included a detail about a person’s life, and participants had to find a member of the Kendal community that fit each quality.
With spaces like, “celebrates a different holiday than you do” and “can speak more than one language,” the game inspired some very interesting conversations. While around 50 people ended up completing their card and being eligible for the prizes, Jason estimates that many more played the game throughout the two weeks. “Residents talked to staff, staff talked to residents — there was a lot of getting to know each other that doesn’t always happen,” he says.
Learning and Discussions
Two other events were also big hits with both the staff members and residents: a discussion of the book Born Fighting, and a viewing and discussion of the movie Greenbook with retired Washington and Lee University professor Dr. Ted DeLaney. While at W&L, Professor DeLaney taught Colonial North America, Comparative Slavery in the Western Hemisphere, African American History, Civil Rights, and Gay and Lesbian History.
The discussion of Born Fighting by former Virginia Senator Jim Webb was led by none other than Kendal at Lexington Executive Director Mina Tepper. “We secured books for people to borrow, but ended up having to get more because it was so well received,” Jason said, estimating that about 30 people ended up attending the discussion.
And while Greenbook was screened several times throughout the month, the main screening with Dr. Ted Delaney was a favorite among the Kendal community. “Ted actually spoke to the group before the movie and gave a little primer on what the discussion was going to be about,” Jason said. “He was very open with some of his personal stories and I thought we had an eye-opening dialogue after the movie,” Jason says.
Finally, the month-plus of events culminated in a staff-wide Diversity and Inclusion in-service with professional diversity trainer Mauricio Velasquez. The first of two presentations focused on the topic of “unconscious bias” was well attended by staff members and ended up being a “dynamic” event, according to Jason. “Mauricio’s contagious energy lit up the room when he spoke,” he says. Mr. Velasquez also held a smaller, interactive session for managers and supervisors, encouraging everyone to celebrate diversity.
Future Diversity Initiatives
With all the success of these events, Jason said that the Kendal-wide diversity committee is already comparing notes and thinking ahead to next year’s celebration. While most of the events were designed with staff members in mind, Jason said the planning committee was pleased to see residents get so involved.
“It’s something the Kendal residents really enjoyed,” Jason said. “Our residents truly embrace diversity.”
To learn more about the Kendal at Lexington community, call 888-467-6115.