At its senior properties, Wendover Management is conducting holiday activities, such as a door decorating contest.
Courtesy Wendover Management, LLC At its senior properties, Wendover Management is conducting holiday activities, such as a door decorating contest.

The holiday season is just one more thing that looks different for multifamily operators in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For Wendover Management, a developer and manager of affordable family and seniors housing as well as market-rate housing in Florida and Georgia, it has typically been a season of engaging with residents through potlucks and Secret Santa gift exchanges.

This year, activities look much different with an adjustment toward social distancing and digital connections. However, the Wendover community site teams have come up with several initiatives to keep residents, especially at its senior properties, active and engaged.

Staff members are conducting painting tutorials and knitting classes via Facebook Live and Zoom with supplies dropped off the day before as well as holiday door decorating contests. Outdoor ice cream socials and food trucks also have been popular with the residents since many have not been able to dine out for months. Residents also can take part in Bingo and Jeopardy games over a conference call line, scheduling times after to claim their prizes while social distancing.

“Reducing face-to-face interaction and utilizing online and digital tools have been important,” says Ryan Von Weller, managing director of development at Wendover Management. “Our staff has been excellent in helping folks utilize these tools.”

According to Von Weller, while there has been a learning curve for the new technology, the site teams have spent time helping connect residents to management staff as well as their families, grocery delivery, and remote medical visits.

“We are really focused on our residents who are the most vulnerable during this time, specifically our seniors and formerly homeless residents,” he says. “It’s been quite the experience to ensure that not only all their needs are met, but that they also feel a sense of community and holiday spirit this season.”

Von Weller says the pandemic has made the firm more cognizant of the core needs of its residents as well as management teams. It recently expanded its food pantry program to serve its residents. The program has traditionally been at some of its senior properties but has been added at several of its family communities and will be incorporated into a development for the formerly homeless that it is working on in Orlando, Florida.

“If a resident can’t go out for groceries, this is a quick on-site solution so no one has difficulty getting [food or other staples],” he says.