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2021 National Activity Professionals Week: Bound for Glory

National Activity Professionals WeekThis week is National Activity Professionals Week. At Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS), the nearly 200 activity professionals dedicated to life enrichment, recreation and volunteerism come up with ideas, large and small, to engage residents in meaningful ways, have fun, learn and connect with others. 

This past year, impacted in every way by COVID-19, required creative adaptations from our activity professionals. In the midst of uncertainly and limitations, they have stepped up in remarkable ways to keep residents engaged with each other and connected to their families.

Jess Drecktrah, Vice President of Life Enrichment, is passionate about elevating the profession of life enrichment in senior living. Inspired by a song by Gospel singer, Rosetta Tharpe, Jess conceived the Bound for Glory award, a traveling award that allows managers and peers to recognize the important work of life enrichment staff and volunteer coordinators as they create opportunities for fun and purpose for those they serve.

About the Bound for Glory awardThe trophy combines a plant, a rock (with a star painted on it), and a golden microphone. Jess explains its symbolism, “The plant represents the live nature of the work we do. The rock with the star on it represents that we are all rock stars. The golden microphone symbolizes the show. The train represents movement and the belief that we are bound for glory.” Each recipient is given the opportunity to be involved in selecting the next recipient of the traveling award – because glory is meant for sharing.

Danessa Weiss, Life Enrichment Director at Folkestone in Wayzata, MN, is the latest recipient, recognized on January 25, 2021.The Folkestone staff submitted over 20 good reasons to nominate Danessa for the Bound for Glory award. Mark Specht, Care Center Administrator, wrote, “I’ve never heard Danessa say ‘I can’t,’ or ‘We won’t be able to,’ when it came to something that would benefit a resident. She makes it happen. We are blessed to have her.” 

Since its launch in fall 2018, Bound for Glory was also awarded to the following individuals:

  • Kevin O’Donnell, Recreation and Wellness Director, McKenna Crossing, Prior Lake, MN
  • Victoria Hadley, Life Enrichment Director, Highland Ridge, Williamsburg, IA
  • Donna Olson, Life Enrichment Director, Lake Minnetonka Shores, Spring Park, MN​
  • Sue Wagener, Volunteer Director, Lake Minnetonka Shores, Spring Park, MN
  • Kari Johnson, Life Enrichment and Volunteer Director, Castle Ridge, Eden Prairie, MN
  • Meghan Constantini, Life Enrichment Director, Carondelet Village, St. Paul, MN
  • Krista Okins, Volunteer Director, Carondelet Village, St. Paul, MN
  • Kara Reiser, Life Enrichment Director, Johanna Shores, Arden Hills, MN
  • Cassie Cook, Life Enrichment Director, Woodland Hill, Hudson, WI
  • Renee Vaughan, Life Enrichment Director, Stonecrest, Woodbury, MN

We thank these recipients along with all the Life Enrichment professionals at PHS. They are the heart and spirit of our communities and fulfill our mission “to honor God by enriching the lives and touching the hearts of older adults.” The important part, says Jess, “is that everything points back to the glory of God through the call of service.”  

Finally ... did you know the PHS Life Enrichment team has created a website bursting with fun and engaging resources that anyone, anywhere can access for FREE?
Life Enrichment Virtual Library
Beyond enriching the lives of those who live at PHS communities, the Life Enrichment Virtual Library website has blessed many others. Area churches have expressed thanks and reported sharing the website with older adults in their midst, who may be feeling isolated during the pandemic.
Here are our top 5 recommendations in the Life Enrichment Virtual Library:
  1. Virtual tours, anyone? At a time when travel has been limited, virtual tours of places all of the world have been a great escape!
  2. NEW! Garrison Keiller’s Daily Almanac, which is described as “a daily podcast of poetry and historical interest pieces, usually of literary significance. Each day’s offering is five minutes long and contains ‘on this day in history’ information as well as an accessible poem.”
  3. Explore history. Life Enrichment Director Nancy Schwartz explains, “Links are added on a routine basis from the Minnesota Historical Society. The history tab is broad in content and contains information about world and local wars, people’s rights movements, local tours and MUCH more.” 
  4. Get moving with fitness videos! Or, if relaxation and deep breathing is what you need, we’ve got that covered, too!
  5. Awaken your heart by following a link to the Spiritual Care Library that features uplifting spiritual messages and music.
So check out the Life Enrichment Virtual Library today and spread the fun, learning and connection!

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