Celebrating the People We Serve
September 09, 2018 | 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.
The Hearthstone, Seattle, WA
Barbara Lundquist, born in Kansas and raised in Colorado and Montana, attended MacMurray College in Jacksonville, IL, for 2 years, at which point she received a football scholarship (because the athletic department didn't need it) at the University of Wisconsin as the principal cellist in the university orchestra.
Lundquist’s study of the music of the world’s cultures began when she became a teacher, as the Civil Rights Movement took shape. At that time, the music taught was based on a classical Western European repertoire, "everybody's heritage," but since many of her students were African Americans, she realized that she was neglecting the African segment of everyone's heritage. So, she decided to give up her cello playing, and devote time to learning about African and African American music, adding her newfound knowledge to the classes she taught.
In the early 1970s, she completed her doctorate and taught music education and the sociology of music at the University of Washington, and became a professor and taught there for 21 years. Along the way, Lundquist received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the National Black Music Caucus of the Music Educators National Conference (MENC), was a professor at San Diego State, and was a visiting professor, lecturer or clinician at colleges and universities across the country.
Lundquist has been an educational consultant for USIS, U.S. Office of Education, UNESCO's conference on African Music in African Music Education, and a member of the International Society of Music Education's advisory panel on music of the world's cultures. She has published on multi-ethnic music education and the music of the world's cultures in music education. Her wide-ranging influence stretches across continents to Tanzania, where she visited musicians among the Wagogo people of the Dodoma region from 2007 to the present. She funded a 501(c)(3), Chamwino Connect, which has done a number of education projects in cooperation with the Wagogo.
You can count on a smile and a positive comment from Lundquist whenever your path intersects hers. Barbara is a champion for many things here at the Hearthstone. She is the visionary behind the creation of the Music Studio at The Hearthstone. She leads our Hearth Tones chorus, and she embraces and accommodates residents of all levels of physical and cognitive abilities. Within the chorus, she has established a true sense of community and the membership has grown from 12 to over 40.
As a world traveler, she has developed friendships and served as mentor to aspiring musicians all over the globe. She shares her international experience with residents through presentations that transport the audience to faraway places. She has motivated many residents and staff to reach out to those who are not as privileged as ourselves, and share our talents with those around us in order to make a positive change in our community and our world.
Lundquist may think she is a musician and teacher, which she is, but we believe she is also a master bridge builder and music is her tool. Barbara has introduced many of us to a far wider and richer world of music and people than we would have known without her.
Carol Gordon, administrative manager, The Hearthstone
St. Ann’s Community, Rochester, NY
Vince Rawls and Michelle Dwyer, employees of St. Ann’s Community, have received Employee of Distinction awards from LeadingAge New York. The award recognizes the extraordinary dedication of service staff in aging services.
Rawls is assistant supervisor, environmental services, and Dwyer is human resources service coordinator. Both have been with St. Ann’s Community for 6 years.
Rawls is known for his work ethic, personality and ability to get things done. In a short time he has progressed from an associate to a supervisory role, all while providing excellent service to residents, families and colleagues. Recently, he volunteered to take on a dual role in a leadership capacity, commuting between St. Ann’s 2 campuses and making an immediate positive impact.
Rawls is a graduate of St. Ann’s Academy, an internal program that supports emerging leaders. He was part of a team that initiated a can and bottle recycling program to make St. Ann’s eco-friendlier, while generating more than $1,500 to date to benefit St. Ann’s residents.
Dwyer is the organization’s champion in employee engagement. She is an exceptional resource to the departments she supports, emphasizing collaboration, teamwork and best practices. She led an effort to improve the hiring process by introducing a behavioral assessment tool, and has generated creative ideas to improve employee onboarding, including a monthly lunch and check-in program for new hires.
Dwyer is also a role model for service in the greater community. She chairs St. Ann’s United Way campaign and co-chairs the annual school supply drive, volunteers with Meals on Wheels and Junior Achievement, and supports the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. In all aspects of her work, she represents St. Ann’s with professionalism, enthusiasm and integrity.
Thomas Petronio, marketing manager, St. Ann’s Community
Carolina SeniorCare, Lexington, NC
In 2017, life was a struggle for Randy Christley. He could barely walk and would often fall. His memory was failing, he faced hallucinations, and he slept most of the day. Christley and his wife and caretaker, Cindy, were desperate for hope. “We were looking for a safe program for Randy, so I could return to work,” says Cindy.
In April 2017, Christley visited Carolina SeniorCare PACE. He barely remembers that first visit, but will enthusiastically share today. He has had many positive changes since then; today he is walking, talking and inspiring others.
“Carolina SeniorCare is a caring place,” says Christley. “They try to give their best to everyone; they give you hope.”
He believes the rehabilitation therapy has helped him in mind, body and spirit. The majority of Christley’s time at the day center is spent in therapy. He loves what it has done for his life, and when not doing his own exercises, he is hanging out with others and encouraging them and giving them hope.
“Randy is an inspiration to all of us at Carolina SeniorCare,” says Leslie Burris, therapy aide. “His positive outlook brings hope to others.”
Joy Cline, chief marketing officer, United Church Homes and Services
Rolling Green Village, Greenville, SC
Dr. Anna Marie Burts enjoys the days she can relax in her Rolling Green Village home with a good book in her hands.
Burts, soon to be 101, enjoys storytelling and its benefits for the mind and soul. She’s now sharing her love of reading and storytelling with a couple of her neighbors who are blind. She says it’s the best way she can give back and show gratitude for the life and friendships she’s formed at Rolling Green Village, which she’s called home for more than 23 years.
She began volunteering earlier this year, after a blind resident moved in and requested that someone read to him for an hour a week. Burts couldn’t wait to dive into a new book and was also eager to help others. She now meets with this resident weekly and is reading him a book about his Indian heritage. She says she’s learned much from him and the books she’s read.
Just this month, Burts began reading to a second blind neighbor. This time, she gets to enjoy mystery novels, which are some of her favorites. She says this experience has given her a new sense of purpose. Research has shown this drive in older adults can help with healthy aging and may even offer longevity benefits.
Chelsea Wilson, GlynnDevins
St. Camillus Life Plan Community, Wauwatosa, WI
For the last 2 years, St. Camillus has had a partnership with Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Milwaukee. The school has more than 50 corporate partners participating in its corporate work-study program. The students work in job-sharing teams of 4, and are paired with companies based on interests and skill sets. They work 5 full days per month, within normal business hours, and the sponsoring organization pays for the services of the students. The program allows students to experience real-world professional occupations, build their resumes, and network with community contacts.
St. Camillus immediately saw potential for participating. The students work in a variety of areas, helping with activities in assisted living or skilled nursing, and working in information technology and marketing. They have the opportunity to sample multiple career options.
The students are supervised by St. Camillus’ Volunteer and Marketing Specialist, Lindsey Bartelt. She oversees the program and works with the students’ direct supervisors to implement new tasks and programming, while monitoring their ongoing work and involvement to ensure they are participating and engaged to their highest potential. She works closely with area supervisors to provide direction and follow-up when necessary.
In spring of this year, St. Camillus started a new program called the “Legacy Project.” Bartelt collaborated with Cristo Rey and they shaped this idea into a reality immediately. Each of the 4 participating students was paired with an assisted living resident. The students built relationships, interviewed the residents, and created biographical presentations on each resident’s legacy.
The students met with the residents weekly and worked diligently on their presentations. The project is mutually beneficial, allowing residents to reminisce and talk about memories that they might not share on a regular basis. The 4 residents who were interviewed shared how blessed they were to be able to live a full life. The residents and students discovered new things through conversation, and rediscovered old memories through reminiscing. One resident, Mary Ellen, says, “Seeing those pictures, it just moved me; it’s like entering my life through Pierce (Cristo Rey student).” She says it took her “down memory lane; I enjoyed it so much.”
This year, St. Camillus instituted a new Youth Achievement Award, which went to Pierce, a junior at Cristo Rey. He was presented the award in front of more than 140 volunteers and staff members. It came along with letters of recommendation for college.
The St. Camillus Legacy Project not only allowed the students to broaden their communication, social and presentation skills, but inspired all to cherish the moment and the meaningful relationships in their lives. It also showed the value of mentorship as Bartelt and the students’ supervisors helped them achieve their daily and semester goals and grow continuously.
Editor’s note: Other Cristo Rey high schools sponsor similar work-study programs around the country. Listen to a LeadingAge Workforce Innovators podcast about a LeadingAge member in Atlanta, GA, that works with a Cristo Rey high school there.
Krista Simko, marketing manager, St. Camillus Life Plan Community
Andrus on Hudson, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY
Some nursing home residents volunteer to be president of the resident council; some head of hospitality; others volunteer to knit blankets or run fundraisers. If you’re Sr. Eileen Tierney, age 81, you do it all!
Tierney quips, “I see things to do, too often!”
Last year Tierney celebrated her 60th anniversary as a nun with the Congregation of Notre Dame. She spent her early career teaching, with a particular passion for eighth grade. To this day, she still keeps in touch with some students.
After a couple decades of teaching, she recalls, “I got involved as associate director of permanent deacons in Bridgeport, CT, and then became a co-director in Manchester, NH. During meetings they’d ask who would be willing to do [something]; I’d look around and then volunteer myself.”
In 1982, Tierney became the first woman to be director of the Diaconate in Manchester. From there, she headed to Chicago, where she was executive director for the National Association of Permanent Deacons for the Catholic Church.
After 6 years there, Tierney felt called to work in a parish. She ended up working part-time at St. Daniel the Prophet on the south side of Chicago, and Santa Maria Addolorata, a poor parish. While working on grants for a parish deacon program, she was awarded a $5,000 grant from Domino’s Pizza.
Later, when the pastor was struggling to make ends meet, Tierney accepted the challenge to help the parish raise $15,000 to pay bills. Via mail, Sr. Eileen reached out to friends, family and former students asking for pennies or pocket change. A local television station picked up this human interest story which got kids filling up jugs with pennies, people donating rolled pennies and even an older couple making a $5,000 donation. Sr. Eileen told the pastor, “When I set my mind to something …” She ended up raising $58,000.
In late summer of 2017, following Hurricane Harvey, the seniors at Andrus on Hudson were concerned for the residents of Houston and wanted to help. Once again, Sr. Eileen pulled out her penny project and asked for small donations. She raised $1,000 for Family-to-Family, a nonprofit organization.
Judi Knispel, director of development and community relations, Andrus on Hudson
Oak Trace, Downers Grove, IL
The loud sounds of saws and sanders could be heard outside the Oak Trace wood shop earlier this year. Inside, resident Richard Haffner was creating a dog house that would soon become a site to bring residents and team members together to help local pets in need.
Haffner put the finishing touches on the large contraption earlier this year. It now sits inside the doors of Oak Trace. The dog house opens from the top, where anyone can donate bags of dog food, treats and other supplies for PAWS Chicago, an animal shelter.
Over the course of a few months, more than 200 pounds of supplies have been donated to the cause. Michelle Hart-Carlson, administrator for the health center, started the collection after reading a story about seniors forgoing medications or meals to provide for their pets. Richard volunteered to create the dog house to hold the supplies.
Oak Trace is pet-friendly, and on any given day, you can find residents walking their beloved furry pals around the 40-acre campus. Studies show pets not only keep their owners physically active, they also help them maintain social connections and a positive outlook in life.
The group is planning a big drop-off celebration at PAWS Chicago in the next few weeks.
Chelsea Wilson, GlynnDevins
Otterbein Lebanon, Lebanon, OH
Otterbein Senior Life residents took another of their “B-OLD Adventures” this summer to Winton Woods for some horseback riding.
Ten residents, along with a program department partner, enjoyed an hour of horseback riding in the woods of Ohio. The weather was a little warmer than expected but the horse rides went on. Residents were met by a staff of 3, ready to get them on the horses and start their adventure.
Resident comments were uniformly positive:
"I really enjoyed the fellowship, working with the exceptional staff, and being back on a horse after all these years.”
“It was the hottest day of the year, but the wooded area was wonderful, and I didn’t get thrown off!”
“Awesome! Had a great time, very well-planned. Had an enjoyable afternoon, and would love to do it again in the fall when the leaves change!”
"It was a pleasure to go back 65 years to the time when I was riding often. I especially enjoyed interacting with the horses themselves—and have great respect for them as very intelligent animals. The staff was very helpful and professional, particularly for those in the group who had not ridden before.”
Samantha Burnett, senior marketing and communications manager, Otterbein Senior Life
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.