What does Heron’s Key and BMX Riding Have In Common? A General Manager/Mom Who Loves Her Job

The title may leave you questioning exactly where this property spotlight may be going, but we hope it inspires you to follow your happiness in the end – whether that is riding a BMX bike or just relaxing in the Life Care community, Heron’s Key.

Heron’s Key opened about a year and a half ago in Gig Harbor, Washington, about 45 miles from Seattle. It is affiliated with Emerald Heights and Emerald Communities, a non-profit Washington-based organization. Heron’s Key is the only “continuing care retirement community” in the area that provides assisted living, memory care support, and skilled nursing. Kristina Christensen, General Manager of Heron’s Key dining services, and her team work together to provide the food operations to 250 residents on-site.

“We have two restaurant operations at Heron’s Key, which our residents truly appreciate,” says Kristina. “The ‘a la carte’ format has amazing food while also allowing feedback on what they like and don’t like; that way we can change it to their tastes. Currently, our residents indulge in comfort foods.”

Jennifer Moberg started as one of the first servers at Heron’s Key but transitioned into the role of Dietary Manager shortly after as she desired to learn more about training others in modified diets, textures, and other needs of the residents. She takes great pride in her job and even was coined the “Mom” by those in the restaurant.

The menu changes regularly, but the demand for culturally-diverse foods stays the same. Chef Jason has been there since opening day, and his experience since then has shown his love for cooking and the residents.

“I toured Heron’s Key with my wife, back when hardhats had to be worn, and, even then, I could tell this building would be stunning. I had instant pride in my atmosphere. I love that I have full autonomy to prepare and roll out new seasonal menus with residents in mind. This allows me to tailor my menus to what they’d like to see, while still adding flair, which keeps my job challenging and interesting at the same time. I make it a point daily to get out of the kitchen and greet residents who come to dine.”

There is even a food service club comprised of residents along with Chef Jason and Kristina, so the residents can have an open dialogue about the food they want to see served. The flexible dining option found at Heron’s Key isn’t found often on the West Coast.

Kristina says “most residents don’t like to pay for foods they don’t eat, and those who live here only during the fall and winter season have the flexibility to not pay for the food while they are away.”

Other loved amenities at Heron’s Key include the 21 social groups, gym and fitness instructors, concierge services, events, and seminars.

“We had a ‘sip and stroll’ event at the harbor that combined whale watching and delicious foods including an ahi poke with wonton crisps. We are always trying to get our name out there and collaborate with the places in our community that our residents love to visit,” says Kristina.

Jennifer emphasizes the importance of taking care of the residents saying “being part of the foundation and establishing fundamentals in a ‘young’ community is inspiring; it is such an important role to be privileged with. We often take for granted that we might be the bright spot in someone’s day and may be the only one they have.”

Kristina continues to say “we amaze people with what we can do. It just showcases how much we care for our residents and their well-being and desires.”

Thank you to Kristina and her team for providing their incredible culinary services and care to their Heron’s Key residents. To find out more information about Heron’s Key, check out their website. But, after a great day at work, you can find Kristina hanging around the Peninsula Indoor BMX race track watching her 7-year old son practice for the Olympics.

“Wyatt has been on a bike since he could walk at nine months old,” says Kristina. “At age two, he was riding a normal bike, which then led to the small electric motorcycle.”

Once Kristina and her husband realized their son’s BMX riding talent, they started calling his Super Wy –based on one of Wyatt’s favorite PBS show, Super Why! The nickname eventually turned into Wyatt’s race name, WyFi.

“It plays on the fact that Wi-Fi is high speed, but so is Wyatt. Racing isn’t always about if you can be the fastest; it is also about trying to figure out how to get ahead of others during the race. During the first race he won, he made this amazing move to get ahead, and I knew that this was his sport,” says Kristina.

BMX racing has brought Kristina, Wyatt, and the rest of their family all over the continent – Florida, Oklahoma, California, Oregon, Washington, and Canada. Each race and winning spot earns Wyatt points throughout the season. During the 2018 season, Wyatt was named the top-ranked six-year-old BMX cyclist in the nation.

“It was incredible seeing him go through all the rounds in the Grand Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma,” says Kristina. “There were about 750 motorcycles, and it dwindles to the top eight. The first day there, we were at the track for probably 14 hours.”

The overall BMX racing season is pretty extensive as it runs from January to November. However, Kristina believes that doesn’t affect Wyatt’s love for the sport.

“Even though Wyatt is still young, he is dedicated and self-driven. We get him there and can coach him, but he has to do well in school because otherwise, we won’t let him race. There are many BMX scholarships available to him, so we hope this experience overall teaches him great work ethics.”

Not only does Wyatt participate in BMX riding, his siblings, Elinor, age four, and Warren, age two, are starting to get involved in the sport. Kristina wants Guest Services’ families to know that the BMX community is one to consider joining.

“Every race we go to, we interact with a bunch of great people, and we end up being friends with many of them. If parents are looking for something interesting for quality family time, it is BMX riding.”

Congratulations to Wyatt for winning the national championship at such a young age! If you are interested in following WyFi on his BMX journey, follow him on Instagram.