The mission of Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS), “to honor God by enriching the lives and touching the hearts of older adults,” is fulfilled when the actions of our employees demonstrate our stated values. In doing so, they “make their mark” upon those we serve. In our continuing series, “Make Your Mark,” we introduce you to PHS employees who are living out these values.
In today’s Make Your Mark spotlight, we share a story about Renee Richer, Life Enrichment Coordinator at Kirkland Crossings in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. If you ask residents, families and staff, they will tell you that she arrived in the nick of time.
“Renee started two weeks before everything changed due to COVID-19!” explains Andrea Zeitler, who is the Life Enrichment Director. “Suddenly we had to find ways to do activities in the hallways or one-on-one with residents in their rooms.”
She describes that without hesitation, Renee fell head over heels for the residents and her new role in this ministry, continuing, “Despite the change, Renee jumped right in and reached out by mail to residents’ families to find out what their loved ones really enjoy! Once she received their feedback, she began creating a weekly calendar with a large variety of activities for the residents. Hallway Bingo, hallway chair exercise, you name it…it was done! Now she can conduct activities in small group settings and has even taken up gardening outside The Arbor—memory care, which looks beautiful and really puts a smile on our residents faces!”
Campus Administrator Jackie Iaquinta says, “Renee does a great job connecting with residents and families. She thinks of creative ways to engage the Arbor residents at Kirkland Crossings. Last week she coordinated a pet visit with a very unusual pet – a horse! The residents absolutely loved it and the staff had a blast as well. We are thankful for Renee at Kirkland!”
But there’s more to the buzz of activities, Renee says. “The most meaningful thing that I do each day, with the crazy times we are living in right now, is take pictures of our activities and keep families up to date on an almost daily basis.” She adds, “Family members appreciate seeing their loved ones enjoying a pet, listening to music or doing a fun craft.”
Renee also coordinates video chats, connecting residents with their friends and loved ones. A resident’s family member wrote to thank Renee, saying, “You were a shining star on our family [video chat] last night! Everyone really appreciates all the little details you help with, whether it’s answering a question, finding someone’s glasses or remote or tidying up a clutter spot. Your good deeds are not going unnoticed. We hadn’t really met you before all this shutdown stuff, but you’ve quickly developed a fan club! Thank you so much!”
The creative, expanding use of technology by Life Enrichment staff is described as a “silver lining” by PHS Life Enrichment Director Nancy Schwartz. “These teams offer reassurance to families and the community that those we serve are being well cared for, engaged and loved in their absence.”
That commitment to compassionate ministry makes a difference, says Dan Lindh, CEO of Presbyterian Homes & Services. In a nod to the PHS employee motto, Creating smiles in the eyes of the people we serve, Dan says, “Staff and volunteers who serve with their hearts make for ‘smiles in the eyes’ of residents.”
We at PHS are so thankful to Renee, the Life Enrichment team and all PHS employees and volunteers who make their mark and reassure residents and families.
Do you know someone looking for more purpose in their work? Share the good news and the many opportunities to make a mark at www.preshomes.org/careers.
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