A Way to Make Money During College Break Turns into More for Local Student

June 02, 2021  |  by WesleyLife

As a cash-strapped college student, Megan Crotts was looking for a way to make a little extra money during winter break last year. She had a month off from the University of Iowa and was spending time at home in Urbandale, and she heard Edgewater, WesleyLife's Community for Healthy Living in West Des Moines, was looking for servers. She applied and started work almost immediately.

"I had never worked in a community for seniors, but I loved it right away; the residents were so kind to me and so interested in my life," Megan says. "I finished Christmas break there and found out I'd be able to come back for spring break, and in the summer. I was looking forward to it. I found myself missing the residents while I was at school!"

Not only was Megan enjoying getting to know Edgewater's residents, but she also had become aware that as a pre-med student, employment with WesleyLife could make other opportunities available that might help strengthen her resume. She inquired as to whether she might be allowed to volunteer with residents; she was approved and began spending time in assisted living.

"I read to the residents, spend time with them -- I help in a variety of ways," Megan, 19, said. "I joke with my friends that between my work serving and bartending and also volunteering, I live at Edgewater. But I realize how lucky I am to be here."

One resident Megan works with is Dr. Marion Alberts, an esteemed, retired Des Moines pediatrician who was one of Edgewater's first residents. Megan said she especially values her time with him, as it's evolved into a learning experience.

"He knows I'm pre-med, and he tells me about some of the hardest cases he had to solve," she said. "He's in his 90s and still remembers so many details. It's a privilege being able to hear these things first-hand from someone who was so important in his field."

Dr. Alberts said he enjoys Megan's company as well.

"She's sharp, that one, and she keeps showing up, so I'm the lucky one," he said with a laugh.

Megan said she'd never imagined herself in a senior-living setting, but she urges others her age to explore summer employment in a community, then take advantage of everything it has to offer.

"I never dreamed when I started working here that it could help me professionally in the long run -- I was just looking for a job over break!" she said. "Now I can't imagine working anywhere else while I'm in school. The residents are like extra grandparents, and the more time I spend here, the more I love it."

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