Meet Ben Harrison, Director of Project Management

Picture It. *construction noise begins*

Picture It. *construction noise*

Picture It. Boonsboro *construction noise*

Picture It. Boonsboro 2022 *construction noise starts again*


Fahrney Keedy has a lot of new construction taking place over the next few months and they need to have the right person in place. Someone who could solve problems, think fast on their feet, know the appropriate dialogue when speaking with contractors, have knowledge of construction (stormwater retention pond anyone?) and so much more. Someone who can also explain to the residents in our Independent Living village all of the changes that will be taking place in their surrounding area. They also should be able to fix a computer and take photos at the annual Holiday Gala but those are minor details.

Lucky for us, we found just the right man for the job. No, not Steamboat Willie. The other guy.

Each week, we will be highlighting a member of the Fahrney Keedy Family to learn a little bit more about their life and career. They will be offering a unique perspective on their role as well as advice for those considering a career in senior living.

This week, we get a snapshot into the life and career of Ben Harrison, Director of Project Management:

Where did you go to school? What was your major? “I went to Frederick Community College where I majored in Business Management.”

Do you have any other certifications? “Yes and no. I have let a lot of them expire but I keep up with CEU on my own time for a good number of them. I was issued a MD Green Card certification for Erosion and Sediment Control, a BPI Certification for Envelope and Analyst as an energy auditor, as well as a license to be a real estate agent in the state of Maryland.”

When did you know you wanted to work in construction? What drew you to your current position? “I have been in construction my whole life. My father was a jack of all trades who happened to own a woodshop and was superintendent for a custom homebuilder. At a young age, I was exposed to working with my hands and my first job was cleaning job sites for the company he worked for. I spent 13 years with that company working weekends and summers throughout high school and beyond. It was an amazing experience where I got to be a part of and see a vast array of projects from brand new 21,000 square foot homes to renovating/building an addition to a 1760’s farmhouse. After starting at full time in IT, the position of Director of Project Management came available. Steve Coetzee, our CEO, reached out to ask if I was interested in the position after a few interviews with others did not go as well as hoped. I nailed my interview and here I am.”

What brought you to Fahrney Keedy? “I bartend in some of my free time. Being in the bar scene, I built a friendship with a fellow Director and bartender, Mr. Rick Goodrich, Director of Information Technology. He knew I was looking for something more permanent than what I had been doing and said there was a PRN position in the IT department. I had never worked in a nursing home or the IT field, but I applied knowing I could put in the work and learn a new skill. Computers had always been a hobby and I figured I would enjoy a new path and challenges that come with it.”

In honor of #tbt, we want to throw it back to your first day at Fahrney Keedy. What do you remember? “My first day was a little different than most. I worked with Fahrney Keedy staff for their Gala in 2019 as a freelance photographer. While I was familiar with a few faces, I didn’t fully understand what everyone did. I was hired off cycle of General Orientation, so I started work before my Orientation. I knew where the office I was to report to was and that was it. The building layout was a little intimidating since I hadn’t walked through it before, nor had I worked in a nursing facility. But once I got started, I remember everyone being helpful and welcoming. The kindness from everyone I encountered was a comforting feeling. It was an exhausting day since I think I got lost no less than 3 times.”

What does a day in the life look like for you? What are your duties and responsibilities? “There are a lot of meetings almost daily. Being split between the IT department and the construction side there is always something to be done. My mornings usually involve fixing user accounts, verifying network health, and ensuring functionality of systems after the night shift. When it comes to the construction side, we are currently in the planning and groundbreaking stages for an expansion of our villages which includes a stormwater retention pond. There is a lot of coordination between our contracting partners and the USDA who is overseeing the stormwater portion. My job is to make sure information is passed along to the appropriate recipient and that we stay alert to what is needed next to keep the project on schedule.”

Do you have a favorite memory from your time spent working here that you would be willing to share? “I get to wear a multitude of hats with my skillset so as unpleasant and devastating as it was to be faced with the Pandemic world, one of the coolest parts came from being to work in almost every department during our facility outbreak. Being short staffed means a lot of duties unfulfilled. From working in Dietary to Central Supply to Maintenance to Housekeeping, I got tremendous experience seeing how other departments operate and the roles they play to keep the facility moving.”

This pandemic has been hard for everyone but especially for those individuals working in healthcare. How did you personally get through it? “Working through the pandemic I would have to say became a mental exercise. Without mental grit, there were many reasons to let it affect me personally, but I chose not to let it. I tried to live my life as close to normal as possible with just adapting to regulations as needed. Sometimes it seemed there was no end in sight. But while the world changed, there was good that came from living in the pandemic world: closer friendships and appreciation for travel.”

Oscar Wilde once said “with age comes wisdom”. What advice would you give to your younger self? “Probably the biggest advice that gets brought up: be smarter with your money. I like to live without regret so I can’t say I regret my decisions, as every challenge in life can be seen as a learning experience. Being financially responsible takes discipline and it would have been nice to repeatedly beat that into my head.”

What advice would you give to someone interested in working in a retirement community? “Put yourself out there. The residents in our community are just like any other. They are wonderful and have expressed numerous times how grateful they are for people who are willing to help. Be kind and kindness will find you, especially in this line of work.”

And, last question, why should someone choose to join the Fahrney Keedy team? “Fahrney Keedy provides great opportunities and works with its employees to help produce an environment that is pleasant and fulfilling while affording the ability to help those who need it as they age.”

Five Second Pose!

We asked Ben five rapid fire questions to get to know him a little better:

Favorite Color: Blue

Favorite Movie: Pacific Rim

Favorite Disney Character: Steamboat Willie

Favorite Superhero: Batman

Favorite Actor, Age 65 & Over: Morgan Freeman

1 Fun Fact: Ben is ambidextrous

Thank you so much to Ben Harrison for sharing! Stay tuned next week when we add another photo to our Family Album!