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Make Your Mark: Rick Ramos plays piano so friends dine together

Photo of Rick Ramos
Photo of Rick Ramos
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 Rick Ramos. Since 2016 he’s been cooking and serving at Mill Pond in Ankeny, Iowa — and so much more. His talents span not only the kitchen but also the dining room: from his advanced knife skills to his classical piano playing, Rick makes his mark on the Mill Pond community. But it’s his talent paired with integrity that makes the greatest impact. His story reflects individual choices that contribute to Operational Integrity — a PHS value.

Kyle Marshall, the Nutrition & Culinary Services Director at Mill Pond, is highly supportive of Rick and explains, “Rick not only prepares delicious meals but he also entertains. After he’s served residents their meals, Rick will take time to play piano in the dining room for them.”

Ricks says he learned to play the piano just six years ago by watching YouTube tutorials and practicing at home. After COVID started and social distancing took effect, fewer residents showed up to the independent living dining room. That’s when Rick saw an opportunity to share his music.

Rick explains, “When we first re-opened the dining room, few residents came regularly except a woman named Ardie. I would see her sitting alone, so I wanted to do something to attract others to join her as friends.”

Noting the extra piano in the care center, Kyle chimes in, “There was this one day when Rick just said, ‘Hey can I get that? And play it?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, man, go for it!” he says laughing, and continues, “Rick started off playing for Ardie and then, as word got out that he would play at mealtimes, more residents came and sat within social distancing guidelines.” He adds, “Rick’s music provides a warm welcome for residents and staff throughout Mill Pond.”

Typically very quiet and reserved, it was Rick’s integrity that guided him to the piano keys — rather than a desire for the spotlight. He simply didn’t want Ardie to dine alone any longer, so he did something about it — even physically moving a piano from one end of the campus to another. Christian author C.S. Lewis once defined integrity as “doing the right thing even when no one is watching.” Perhaps we could say that, in this example, integrity is doing the right thing when just one person is watching.

Rick enjoys playing whether for one, such as his friend Ardie, or for the many. He says, “I feel happy playing the piano because I’m making them happy too.”
We at PHS are thankful and inspired by Rick and all PHS employees who make their mark by stepping outside their comfort zones to bring joy and friendship to those we serve.

 Do you know someone looking for more purpose in their work? Share the good news and the many opportunities to make a mark at

Further reading:

Careers in culinary roles
Make Your Mark: Ken's Big Kitchen
Make Your Mark: Rita Bratton cooks with care and attention to others

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