Helping others has always been important to Rollie Peterson. Although he once struggled with finding his true calling, he knew it would be people-focused. Getting his start in social work, Rollie eventually became intrigued with the retirement age demographic. “I’ve always felt that I have an “old soul,” so I fit right in with this great generation that we serve,” Rollie explained. “I can relate to them, and I appreciate their values,” he continued.
Pursuing that interest and starting out as Friendship Haven’s Housing Director in 2000, Rollie has been a part of the process of building today’s campus from the ground up. Within the first few years of working at Friendship Haven, Rollie, along with the executive team, began having regular meetings regarding campus renovation. The goal for each project was twofold- meeting the needs of current residents, while planning ahead for future prospects. After many discussions with architects and designers, and lots of planning, projects started coming to fruition. In 2003, four new townhomes were built. The Gardens Assisted Living came in 2004, with the Wellness Center and Kenyon Place following in 2005. Rollie is passionate about his lawn and garden, so he thoroughly enjoyed “bringing the outdoors inside” during these expansion projects in an effort to develop a dynamic campus. Now, being able to step back and see the bigger picture puts a smile on Rollie’s face. “To see the space utilized the way it is today is incredibly gratifying,” he reflected. “It truly allows residents to live full lives with faith, passion and purpose.”
During the renovation of campus, Rollie, along with the executive team, implemented a different lifestyle culture throughout Friendship Haven. The main objectives were emphasizing a resident-focused concept and utilizing the six dimensions of wellness- physical, emotional, spiritual, vocational, intellectual, and social. As social wellness has been shown to be the most critical for health and happiness, significant time and efforts were put forth in order to enhance a social feel. Residents accepted these principles and there has been much success since the implementation. “This place is a home to many, and to see residents enjoy the company of others and have fun is so special to me,” said Rollie.
While Rollie has experienced a lot of success in the past 17 years of working at Friendship Haven, he has also endured some challenges as well. Beginning the process of change is sometimes hard to grasp. Having to assure the residents that the change was necessary wasn’t always easy, but everyone benefited greatly in the long run. “We all got through it together,” Rollie said. “We’re all family here, so it was important to me that everyone was on board with the changes.”
Rollie notes that his biggest accomplishments have been seeing the improvements on campus as well as the implementation of a purposeful lifestyle. Providing residents with opportunities to find their purpose gives their life more meaning, which also enhances personal well-being. Rollie also enjoys being a part of an innovative team and stated, “The people that I work with here are a major reason why Friendship Haven has become a well-respected senior living community in the Fort Dodge area.”
Now the Vice President of Residential Life, Rollie enjoys focusing on what he does best: helping people. Since coming to campus, changing roles, implementing new strategies, helping design campus additions, and everything in between, Rollie is happy to have found his niche. Unsure on a career path in his early years, Rollie would later find that his passion for serving others would grow and flourish at Friendship Haven, making a positive impact among residents and within the community. Many days, he can be found visiting with residents around the table or walking the halls, greeting everyone by name and with a smile.
Rollie resides in Fort Dodge with his wife, Jan, and they have three grown children. Rollie is highly involved in the community, having served on the Community Health Center Board, participating in Leadership Fort Dodge, and holding a church leadership position.