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Waltonwood Cary Parkway, a premier senior living community offering independent living, assisted living and memory care, is pleased to announce Mercedes Richards as its new independent living manager and Matthew VanAuker as its new executive director. VanAuker brings more than five years of senior living experience to his new role. He previously served as a wellness coach, resident services manager, executive director, and most recently as associate executive director for Waltonwood Senior Living, where he provided regional support for five communities located in North Carolina and Northern Virginia. As executive director at Waltonwood Cary Parkway, he oversees the daily operations and future direction of the community and provides support to each department to ensure the needs of each resident and individual in the community are met.

“I developed a passion for seniors when I was 16 years old and working at the local YMCA,” said VanAuker. “My mom was the membership director and oversaw activities for older adults, so growing up I was around seniors constantly. During college, I studied health care communications and had the opportunity to intern at a few businesses that catered to seniors. That just deepened my respect and love for helping seniors, so I made it my career. The roles I’ve held up to this point have prepared me to be executive director at Waltonwood Cary Parkway. I am originally from New York and moved to North Carolina because of Waltonwood. I was attracted to the family owned company because of its values. After visiting, I knew this was the right fit for me. I loved traveling to the different communities, but now as executive director I am building strong relationships with the residents. I am here to serve and provide the best experience for seniors and team members. Assuming this role comes second nature to me. My mom is actually an executive director at a senior living community in New York, so I guess you can say it runs in the family. I am excited to be here and know it will be truly amazing.”

Richards joins Waltonwood Cary Parkway as its first independent living manager. The Cary native brings experience in multiple fields, but she found her calling in senior living a few years ago. In her new role, she acts as a customer service champion for residents. Her primary focus is to assist in providing a satisfied and engaged community. She ensures resident engagement is high through constant, caring and open communication with residents, family members, team members and the executive director. Waltonwood Cary Parkway provides residents with engaging amenities and programming. Richards is committed to providing a warm and caring quality of life for residents while empowering the strengths of those around her.

“I am honored to be the first person named independent living manager at Waltonwood Cary Parkway,” said Richards. “As a Cary native, I remember when the community was first built. It’s a beautiful community with top-notch care and team members who treat you like family. My journey to work in the senior living industry was a calling. I always planned on being a forensic psychologist. I even got my degree in psychology, but after my grandmother got sick, I saw firsthand how the aging process works. It made an impact on my life, and I knew from then on that I needed to be an advocate for seniors. I want to be the extended family member for residents and their families while they call Cary Parkway home. My heart is helping seniors with their current and future needs, and I am excited to see what the future holds at Waltonwood Cary Parkway.”

“We’re thrilled to welcome Matthew and Mercedes to the Waltonwood family,” said Sara Bailey, senior regional director of sales at Singh Senior Living. “They both have the passion and experience to ensure that residents enjoy an active lifestyle and exceptional quality of life. Matthew and Mercedes have shown outstanding leadership skills, and we appreciate how they both make everyone feel like part of the team. Incorporating the new position of independent living manager has been seamless. Mercedes has been fantastic, and we know she will thrive in this role. Matthew is a talented leader who has an excellent understanding of Waltonwood and our core values. He will help us redefine senior living with his knowledge of the industry. We know they will both exceed all expectations and provide services with dignity and respect.”

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