Joshua Watkins, CDM

Joshua has made a difference by creating numerous dining activities for residents that have them excited about meal periods.

Details

Co-director of Nutrition Services, Palmetto Park Retirement, Palmetto, GA
Age: 26
Education: CDM from the University of Florida
Years at organization: 9

Why Selected?

According to Ruby Jenkins, co-director of nutrition services at Palmetto Park, Joshua has made a difference by:

  • Modernizing and bringing new vision to the foodservice department
  • Creating numerous dining activities for residents that have them excited about meal periods
  • Planning off-site activities for staff in order to get them to bond “off the clock,” which has transformed employees’ attitudes toward one another

Get to know

Q. What has been your proudest accomplishment?

Since achieving my CDM, it has been bringing our “retirement home” food up to restaurant quality and developing themed dining experiences. Since many of our residents are not able to travel and get out of their homes, I wanted to develop themed dining experiences. It’s kind of like bringing the experiences to them so their friends and families can enjoy it with them.

Q. What's the best career advice you've been given?

Don’t stop, be humble and remember to treat others the way I want to be treated. This has allowed me to be understanding of my team’s needs and that we all genuinely go through things that we need help with. Don’t stop sums it all up for me. Don’t stop caring. Don’t stop giving back. Don’t stop loving. Don’t stop moving forward. Don’t stop growing. Just don’t stop.

Q. What's been the biggest challenge you've had to overcome?

Not to take things to heart. I’ve learned that no matter how much I pour my heart into things, someone will not like it or would have done something differently. When I first became a director, it was hard not to have my feelings hurt or become disappointed when someone downed my idea or changed my plan. If I can hear one resident tell me they love me or love the things that I am doing for them, then I rest well and know that my efforts are impacting people and making a difference in the generation(s) older than me.

Q. What's been your most rewarding moment?

It is rewarding to me every time that I get to see my team of cooks enjoy the meals they’re producing and enjoy decorating their plate with the awesome food they just cooked. Each of my cooks and service aides is unique and great in their own way. Each of their personalities makes my job rewarding. I couldn’t do the things I am doing without a great co-director, team of nutrition employees and an administrative team that supports and promotes my ideas.

Q. What would you like to accomplish in your career in the next two years?

I want to change people’s lives. I want to give them a new look on senior “retirement home” dining.

Q. What can you look back at now and laugh at?

When I was in school, someone that was training me instructed me to fill a sink full of chicken (about five to six cases) for one of my cooks to wash in between prep and cooking two meals. Now we laugh about how much chicken she threw in the trash can after I left that day. The food being wasted is not funny, but it’s how she controlled her anger… by slamming it in the trash, piece by piece, after I left.

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