When Emmet White, president and CEO of the UCC-related Arcadia Family of Companies in Honolulu, and Norman Chong, Arcadia’s CFO, joined the CHHSM-member ministry, Arcadia was a single retirement community. As the two retire Dec. 31, their legacy is the growth of that single community into a family of seven companies providing care and services to the greater Hawai’i community.
To celebrate their years of service, Arcadia honored the two at a special gathering Nov. 29, which included presentations and reflections from CHHSM President and CEO Michael J. Readinger.
“The celebration was fun and special, but the real joy was seeing the Arcadia community,” says Readinger. “They asked me to say a few words, so I told them how special they were with their brand of hospitality.”
Indeed, Arcadia’s unique brand of hospitality is part of the core values instilled in its communities by White and Chong. White, who arrived at Arcadia in 1996, says his biggest challenge has been finding ways to emphasize Arcadia’s “core values every day without losing the enthusiasm and devotion to those values by our workforce and all those whom we serve and their families.” Those core values include these statements: be humble; be understanding; be gentle; be just; be merciful; be honest; be peaceful; and be faithful.
Chong and White’s service equals some 85 combined years, including time spent on Arcadia’s board of directors and in service with Central Union Church, the UCC congregation that founded the original Arcadia community in 1967. Their work together can best be described as that of a “dynamic duo,” says Jill Kozak of Arcadia’s marketing department.
“We needed to focus on developing a plan for renovating Arcadia … and getting it on a sound financial footing,” White says.
Chong concurs. “Up to year 2000, Arcadia’s finances were not as favorable as they are today,” he says.
Today, Arcadia serves more than 1,000 older adults in Hawai’i, and is ready to transition into a new team of leaders. Chong says that good communication is one of the best lessons he’s learned serving Arcadia. White agrees, and says the most important lesson he’s learned is to listen, and to “be caring, but always firm, fair, and honorable.”
The retirement celebration also included recognition of three long-time Arcadia board members: the Rev. Ted Robinson, pastor emeritus of Central Union UCC; and two Central Union members, Jim Richards and Sarah Nordwall. Readinger presented all five honorees with certificates of appreciation.
During his address, Readinger talked about Arcadia’s role as part of CHHSM’s family of 400 communities nationwide. “I reminded them of the importance of their faith-based heritage and connections to the UCC through Central Union Church,” he says.
Reflecting on his career, White says his greatest accomplishment at Arcadia has been “seeing all of our employees working together for quality service and care to 1,000 seniors daily.” He looks forward to wife Betty’s retirement next June, after which the two of them will decide how to spend their retirement years.
Chong says he’ll miss “associating with staff. Whether during project meetings, lunches, or problem solving, they have always been invigorating in keeping me alert.” He plans on relaxing, playing tennis, traveling, and spending time with his grandchildren.
But perhaps the greatest gift the two will leave with Arcadia is the sense of warmth and caring. Readinger sums it up best.
“The warmth and hospitality I received there, from staff and residents alike, was amazing. Both Arcadia and 15 Craigside are amazing residences — life plan communities like few others I have seen,” he says. “Every day when I went to eat a meal there, people would sit with me or call me over to sit with them. Dining room servers came by and asked me my name one day and called me by name the rest of the trip. Visiting Arcadia was a genuine Aloha moment.”
Learn more about the Arcadia Family of Companies.