Activists, Artists, and Families: These are the People We Serve
May 20, 2019 | by The Members of LeadingAge
LeadingAge members tell the stories of remarkable people they work for and with every day.
LeadingAge members tell the stories of remarkable people they work for and with every day.
Gurwin Jewish~Fay J. Lindner Residences, Commack, NY
Hiding in the forest from the Nazis for months, Tina and her family relied on the goodness of others to survive. Despite her stolen childhood, she looks for the positives in life, maintaining that the best advice for a good life is to be kind to others.
Such is the simple yet sound advice from the pages of the 2019 “L’dor v’dor: From Generation to Generation Calendar” produced by Gurwin Jewish ~ Fay J. Lindner Residences.
Now in its seventh year, the award-winning calendar showcases 14 residents of the assisted living community, including 2 Holocaust survivors, 2 couples married more than 60 years, and 8 other older adults whose pearls of wisdom are forever immortalized in its pages.
Each model was selected for his or her unique personal story and life experiences. Models sat for professional hair and makeup, and portraits were taken by a local photographer. The day-long shoot included a feature interview of the models about their lives and advice, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the calendar, filmed by a professional videographer and available for viewing on Gurwin’s website.
“The annual ‘calendar reveal’ is a much anticipated event for the residents and their family, as well as our staff,” says Staci Rosenberg-Simons, director of community relations at Gurwin’s assisted living community. “From the red carpet arrival, to the paparazzi photos and interviews, to the autographing of the calendar pages, the event brings a certain air of celebrity magic to our facility. A copy of the calendar is available free of charge at the Gurwin website.
Maureen Fagan, public relations, Gurwin Family of Healthcare Services
Episcopal Communities & Services, Monrovia, CA
In a unique partnership, Episcopal Communities & Services for Seniors (ECS), based in Los Angeles, recently joined with the Pasadena After Hours Rotary to assemble 89 emergency preparedness kits for residents at the affordable housing community, Heritage Square Senior Living Apartments in Pasadena. Heritage Square is a partner of ECS.
ECS wrote a grant to the After Hours Rotary after learning about the lack of emergency supplies and provisions from the onsite manager at Heritage Square. The Rotary Club agreed to provide a $3,000 cash award, and to organize a food drive for the low-income community. The only contingency of the grant was that Rotary members work alongside the residents to prepare and assemble the kits.
Christina Cerrato, ECS director of operations for affordable housing, explains, “This $3,000 grant allowed us to purchase backpacks, ready-to-eat meal cartons, flashlights, first aid kits, solar blankets, and other items that would help in an emergency. In addition, the Rotarians arrived onsite with 740 canned goods plus 40 liters of water to stock the community’s emergency pantry in the event of a disaster.” The residents and Rotary members concluded the evening work gathering with a joint pizza party.
According to Donna Hess, onsite manager at Heritage Square Senior Living, “The biggest impact is from the disaster kits. Many of our residents receive food boxes from local food banks so they do not have extra funds to buy emergency kit supplies. Even having a flashlight is helpful considering the recent storms.” Hess had to rearrange some holiday decorations to accommodate all the cans of food, but she agrees that this tremendous gift offers residents a bit of comfort too. She says her tenants are very engaged when having events like this and always look forward to the next one.
Michael, a resident of Heritage, says, “It was a great thing to have to keep in my apartment, knowing it is there is good. We never know what might happen. But the evening was fun. They gave us the backpacks and they even brought pizza!” Other tenants also expressed their gratitude and said that they had never seen things like this in other places where they have lived and are very excited for the next event.
Ironically, the assembly of the disaster kits coincided with the raging fires that tore through California. The volunteers and residents agreed this could not have come at a more appropriate time.
Robin McCarthy, development director, Episcopal Communities & Services
Hebrew SeniorLife, Boston, MA
Emily Mabia, operations manager in the skilled nursing community at Hebrew SeniorLife’s (HSL) Orchard Cove, is rarely seen without a wide smile and her signature cherry-red glasses.
For the past 19 years, Emily has held a variety of roles in our Canton, MA, community: from a CNA to a household leader to her current role as the operations manager and Vitalize360 coach. Emily spends time every day with residents, and often asks the key cultural belief question: “What matters most to you?”
Emily has had dozens of these very conversations with residents in Orchard Cove’s long-term care community, with each one eliciting rich conversations about family, lifelong dreams, and goals that help the skilled nursing team care for the residents—beyond medical care.
Emily has also played a critical role in educating staff and families about Vitalize360, HSL’s comprehensive wellness and exercise program that promotes healthy aging. Emily views it as a platform for life, empowering each resident to achieve their goals and make lifestyle changes that not only lead to improved health, but also to a richer quality of life.
Margaret Bonilla, director, communications and public relations, Hebrew SeniorLife
Three Pillars Senior Living Communities, Dousman, WI
The women of the Jondle family are all happily employed. What you wouldn’t expect is that they all work at Three Pillars Senior Living Communities in Dousman.
It started for the Jondles in October 2011. The oldest of the 3 sisters, Ashley, was a sophomore in high school when she landed a job in dining services.
For Ashley, the lifelong friendships she still cherishes today began then. Her best friends are the people she works with, which brings her joy and reinforces her strong connection to her workplace.
Over time, Ashley’s friends became friends with middle sister Dana. It was 2014 and she saw how much Ashley was enjoying her job, so she applied and was hired. They became the “Jondle duo.”
Not long after Dana started, Ashely began college at UW Whitewater. She continued to work, and it wasn’t long before Ashley brought some of what she was learning at college to the senior community. She initiated a volunteer-based study with residents, testing speech perception and noise in older adults. After 3 years of work, her research was published with the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR).
Ashley’s supervisor suggested she consider adjusting her career to match her studies. In late 2017, Ashley became a service associate in assisted living, where she could work hands-on with residents in a caregiving role.
By late 2017, the Jondles’ mother, Dawn, had heard for years about her daughters’ wonderful experiences. In January 2018, she applied for and landed a job in housekeeping. The part-time schedule was perfect, as she could still homeschool her youngest daughter, Erin. The “Jondle duo” was now a trifecta.
Dawn says nothing was as cheesy and cute as her first few months when she’d hear multiple times per day from various people, “You’re Ashley and Dana’s mom? They’re so wonderful!”
By June 2018, the Jondles learned that housekeeping had a job opportunity in laundry for the same hours that Dawn worked. Who better to fill that part-time role than the youngest sister, Erin?
“It was a good opportunity for a job with a perfect schedule, so it worked great,” Erin said, who now made the Three Pillars Jondle employees “The Fab Four.”
Kelsey Pangborn, customer experience manager, Three Pillars Senior Living Communities
Kendal at Oberlin, Oberlin, OH
The 2018 midterm elections were barely over when Kendal at Oberlin resident Judy Riggle’s plan took shape.
“We should have a celebration for all these elected women. We should have a tea party,” she told her husband, Tom.
Organizing a community event is nothing new for Riggle, a retired library director. But in October 2017, she had a massive stroke and her persistent paralysis meant she would need others to help throw a party.
Not a problem at Kendal, a community of active, engaged men and women, ready to assist in any way they can. Anne Elder and Carol Hall researched the bios of women newly elected to the 116th House of Representatives and recruited female residents to participate in the program. Dining services agreed to prepare tea and treats, and other residents pitched in with the publicity.
On Jan. 3, the day the new representatives were sworn into Congress, Kendal residents, staff and friends, teacup in hand, crowded into the auditorium to hear first-person portrayals of 6 new Congresswomen—Katie Porter, Lauren Underwood, Lucy McBath, IIhan Omar, Abby Finkenauer, and Ayanna Pressley.
“The women were wonderful indeed. They made you want to jump up and contribute money,” says Riggle, who moderated the event.
Hearing the women’s stories got Riggle thinking that Kendal residents have many stories to share about their accomplishments. “I would like to put together a cohesive program of oral histories of Kendal residents,” she says.
She is also pursuing a personal goal, to regain mobility so she can play tennis again.
Meanwhile, she’s keeping an eye on the news to see how the women in Congress are doing.
“I think very good things are going to happen because of the women,” Judy says. “They have different mindsets and priorities. President Trump is already talking about child care and I doubt that was on his radar.”
Molly Kavanaugh, marketing, Kendal at Oberlin
Western Reserve Masonic Community, Medina, OH
The gathering was a birthday celebration like no other for longtime resident George Lovelady. The husband, father, World War II veteran, and friend welcomed more than 60 family members on March 24 to commemorate his 100th birthday.
While planning the party with his siblings, David Lovelady, the oldest son, says the celebration quickly evolved into a large family reunion, with children, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren traveling to Medina from Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and New Jersey. “This is quite a milestone for our dad,” says Lovelady.
The tech-savvy Lovelady asks OK Google for weather updates every day, and to play his favorite big band music. He stays in touch with family by texting and emailing on his Android 5, and he’s familiar with Facebook and Instagram.
When asked what, if anything, surprised him about turning 100, Lovelady answers, “Why me?” He attributes his longevity to good genes, a healthy diet, keeping active (he played tennis until 92), being close to his family and, above all else, “marrying a wonderful wife.”
Marjorie and George married on Nov. 4, 1945, and enjoyed 72 years of marriage before Marjorie passed away in April 2018. Together, the couple raised 5 children. Favorite family pastimes included camping, boating and fishing on Lake Erie, along with bicycling. Lovelady also served as the president of the Ohio Speed Skating Association.
Lovelady retired from Standard Oil in 1979, after 33 years in international accounting, using skills he acquired during the War while stationed in England.
Wendy D 'Alessandro, Lynn Public Relations
Schowalter Villa, Hesston, KS
Kelly Nachtigal is part of our dedicated environmental services team, a gentle, thoughtful, and greatly appreciated man.
He has been developing his skills as a photographer outside of work and has won numerous awards with his photography.
I asked him if he would take a series of photos to develop into wall art for our newest neighborhood, East Terrace. We are calling the collection “The Work of Our Hands.”
These are photos of residents who live in health care or assisted living, doing things that are meaningful to them. We got the photos in canvas-wrapped art, and residents and staff have been enjoying them very much. You can see a lot of life and beauty in these hands.
Treva Greaser, executive director, Schowalter Villa
Thanks to the many LeadingAge members who wrote the stories included in this article. To contribute more stories of diverse, remarkable elders—and the staff, board members and volunteers who serve them—contact Editor Gene Mitchell at GMitchell@LeadingAge.org or 202-508-9424.