Keyton | ‘You’ve gotta be a little crazy’

‘You’ve gotta be a little crazy’

Thursday, 07 December 2023

Karen Pohl has been the village administrator at Abervale for more than 24 years and reflects back on what it has been like to work at the retirement village for more than two decades.

An unlikely start to the job

Karen started out her journey at Abervale as a cleaner, but quickly progressed into the role of village administrator and receptionist. But when asked about how that progress happened, Karen doesn’t really have an answer herself.

‘They needed someone I guess,’ she laughs. ‘I actually didn’t apply for the job. I filled in for the role a couple of times, and I already knew a lot of the residents as well. Also back then, I was probably a bit more computer savvy than some other people. But I’ve gotten old now.’

Karen has a personal connection to the village

Karen knew Abervale not just from working there, but also from personal experience. Her mum moved into the village after Karen started working there, and they got to spend a lot of quality time together. ‘It was good having her here. I got to see her and catch up a fair bit,’ Karen remembers.

After her mum sadly passed away, Karen found comfort in her work as the receptionist, and interacting with residents and their families on a daily basis. When asked what the best part of her job is, she has a very quick answer.

‘It’s interaction with the residents. And milestone events. There were some really special times. 100th birthday celebrations, the village anniversary, and we even had a wedding here not long ago. This is fantastic. This is when we can make the residents happy.’

The living embodiment of the Keyton values

As a self declared introvert who doesn't like to talk about herself, Karen feels at home behind her reception desk. ‘I am very, very introverted. But you put me behind that desk, and I can have a chat to residents and talk about things they want to talk about.’ 

Receptionist Karen speaking to a resident at the Abervale retirement village anniversary Normally an introvert, Karen loves chatting to residents

Village manager Andrew Scholten, who has worked alongside Karen for many years, finds clearer words to describe her. ‘Karen is the backbone of the village, she holds all the history, knows every resident and their families, she is loved dearly by every resident and every member of staff,’ he recently said during the village’s 40 year anniversary. 

‘Karen is the backbone of the village’

‘She is smart, witty, full of fun and vitality and is the living embodiment of the Keyton values. You are such an important person for everyone in the village and we have to let you know that. You are a remarkable person.’

Resident Nance seconded the wonderful words spoken by Andrew. ‘We love Karen, she is always there,’ she said. ‘The last three years were a bad time for everybody, and we would have never ever managed without her, especially me.’

‘I just keep turning up for work’

When asked if she will celebrate her 30 year anniversary at Abervale in the future, Karen just laughs and says she is taking it one day at a time.

‘I’m going on a holiday shortly, to Canada and Alaska. I will be overseas for three and a half weeks. But other than that, I’ve got nowhere else to go at the moment, so I keep turning up for work,’ she smirks. ‘You’ve gotta be a little bit crazy to be in any job for that long.’

Find out more about Abervale, VIC.

For more information about the lifestyle and support offered at our retirement villages, call our customer service team on 1800 550 550.

If you think your family or friends might enjoy this article, please share it with them.

Related Stories

A fulfilling community life
After retiring from their farm, Joan and Ron found a wonderful social life and a sense of community and security at Abervale.
"It’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle"
Nicole talks about her rewarding 18 year career in retirement living.
101 years and counting
Abervale resident Nance Cunningham just recently celebrated her 101 birthday. With more than 25 years living at the retirement village, we thought it was about time to catch up with her and hear some of the great stories about her life at Abervale.
Abervale celebrates 40 year anniversary
From a sit down lunch, to musical entertainment, a new time capsule and the planting of a tree, the Abervale retirement village went all out for their special 40 year anniversary.