Charles Brownlow Retirement Village manager Jennifer Storer’s career has always been driven by a desire to look after society’s most important.
As the deputy director of both the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and the Canterbury Museum in New Zealand, Jennifer says she has cared for a lot of ‘taonga’ (a Māori word which roughly means treasure).
“And now as the Charles Brownlow village manager I am still working with treasure,” she says with a big smile.
While she had not lived in Geelong for many years, Jennifer grew up and started her family there and her 86-year-old father still lives there.
“I’ve moved back to my hometown to be near my father,” she says.
“So the Ryman position was the perfect fit.
“I was walking past the village and I saw ‘Ryman’ and I knew the name and great reputation from my time in Christchurch.”
The village leadership role enables Jennifer to promote preventative community health and wellbeing; something which has always been part of the way she has worked.
“My mother was legally blind, so I have always been really interested in how you can make cultural experiences accessible to all,” she says.
“When people are involved in cultural activity, it can be hugely beneficial for their mental and physical health.
“We moved to Christchurch post-quake to be part of the rebuild in every sense – both structural and community.
“Working in a cultural institution meant working with every part of the community, including those with dementia, youth at risk and babes in arms”.
With a desire to develop partnerships with others in the Highton and greater Geelong community, Jennifer hopes cultural experiences will be a strong feature of the village.
“I would love to have an artist in residence, that would be fantastic.
“It would be really nice to offer different sensory experiences, especially to people in the care centre.”
She knows the state-of-the-art village offers a level of care that everyone deserves, but not everyone gets to experience.
“Over the years I have had friends and family living with dementia but unfortunately there just weren’t the facilities back then that Ryman now offers.
“I’m really enjoying building relationships with all of the residents, offering them diverse and interesting activities and knowing that they will receive fantastic care.”