Creating Community at Vivalon: Inside Vivalon’s Guest Services Team

June 2024 Staff Spotlight - Marie-Claire and Stephanie

When you visit the Healthy Aging Campus, Stephanie Phillippe and Marie-Claire Kabahizi are two of the first people you will see. The pair make up our exceptional Guest Services team and are the heart of our welcoming and inviting atmosphere.


Each day, this duo seamlessly juggles guest check-ins, class registrations, membership applications, and an array of inquiries, often navigating language or other barriers. They manage all of these tasks and more with grace and compassion to ensure every person feels warmly welcomed.


Stephanie joined the team in January 2024 and has become a dynamic Guest Services Coordinator with a wealth of diverse experiences under her belt. Describing herself as a “Jack of all trades,” Stephanie has worked in various fields ranging from retail and event planning to photography. Her journey has been marked by a passion for learning and a commitment to personal growth.


“During the pandemic I started going back to school to finish my Bachelor’s, studying psychology and social action,” Stephanie explains. “Even though I live in Oakland, I worked in Marin at a sober living house. I had no plans to continue working in Marin when I left that job, but this position sounded really interesting to me. I’ve always had a heart for older people and very young people. I also know that the aging population is going to increase, and I wanted more direct experience working with this population because I’m going to be a therapist.”


Stephanie finds immense satisfaction in being part of an environment where she can see the direct positive impact of her efforts on others. She is particularly excited about this job because it is the first one where her colleagues share her level of passion and dedication.


The concept of aging in place has also long intrigued Stephanie, and she believes there is no other place quite like Vivalon. Personally, she looks forward to interacting with older adults at the campus every day. “I don’t have any grandparents left and I think I’ve kind of missed talking to people that have so much life experience,” she explains.


Marie-Claire Kabahizi, originally from Rwanda, has been enriching the U.S. community for the past 24 years. Since March of this year, she has become a dedicated Guest Services Coordinator at Vivalon, with 15 years of experience in social services and a wealth of knowledge and genuine passion for community engagement.


At Community Action Marin, she excelled as the Operations Coordinator and managed contracts. Hearing about the impactful work at Vivalon inspired her to join our team. “I wanted to change jobs, and I applied for the position. I’m grateful to be here. It just brings me joy to see all the people who come here for services,” she shares.


“The most rewarding part is seeing the community come to us and the trust they have in Vivalon, the trust they have in getting a meal at Vivalon, or even coming for the class,” Marie-Claire adds. “This is where they socialize, they get food, they get exercise. For me to see that this aging population has a place to go really touches my heart.”


Marie-Claire’s drive each morning comes from her role in greeting and assisting clients at Vivalon, knowing she is part of a vital support system. She is also delighted by the diversity she encounters daily.


“I’ve met people from South Africa, people from Sweden, people from Belgium, people from Britain,” Marie-Claire explains. “In fact, this is the only place where I get to speak French every day.”


These linguistic skills proved vital when a non-English speaker fell during a Zumba class. Recognizing French amidst the chaos, Marie-Claire translated for paramedics, providing a lifeline. “We would have had no way to talk to her,” Stephanie reflects.


Stephanie’s journey and diverse background have made her a remarkable asset to the Vivalon team. Likewise, Marie-Claire’s dedication to her community and passion for helping others shine through in everything she does.


The pair of Guest Services Coordinators have become the perfect team to contribute to the vibrancy of the Healthy Aging Campus. “It’s really so beautiful to see and even to hear people say, ‘Oh I come here to get my exercise and socialize with other people.’ It’s almost like they are lonely at home, but they know they can go to Vivalon and socialize. That’s really important.” Stephanie agrees: “There’s nowhere like this place.”


In that truth lies Vivalon’s power – this is far more than a facility, but a beacon of hope, purpose, and community for countless of aging adults. At its heart stand Marie-Claire and Stephanie, who share warmth and spirit that help transform Vivalon into an embracing home for Marin’s older adults.


We’re truly grateful to these outstanding team members! Join us in thanking Marie-Claire and Stephanie for their compassion and commitment to our vibrant, diverse community and feel free to stop for a quick chat when visiting the Healthy Aging Campus.



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