by Gabriela Garcia, Activities Director
Greetings Family and Friends,
I am happy and excited to share with you some of our activities in which our Residents were able to participate. With our lockdowns and all the craziness that COVID 19 has brought into our lives, we have to find ways in which we could keep our dear Residents engaged as much as possible. I am very thankful that I have a good activities team that “ride” along with the different exciting activities we have to come up with.
At the end of the month, we celebrated our version of “Oktoberfest”. Our team decorated part of our second-floor dining room, set up a photo booth, had soft drinks and beer ready, and our awesome dietary department baked some pretzels and prepared beer cheese dip. Once everything was ready, we started bringing Residents from one floor at a time. We had some trivia about Germany and Poland. Since some of our Residents are from those parts of the world or have history with people from there, they were happy to share some interesting histories, anecdotes, words in their different languages, or remembered some places that we were “virtually” visiting with our iN2L – It’s Never Too Late – computer system. One of our ladies that was born in Poland said that being part of this activity meant so much to her. She told me when she was leaving the dining room: “you not only made this day meaningful, but my whole month! Thank you for doing this for us”. At the end of the day, it was worth it all!
Some months ago, our Home received a donation of cute “red baby dinosaurs” stuffed animals that dance and talk. We were thinking how to use them best, when our second lockdown was announced. I thought this was a great day to introduce our “new pets” to the Home. When the morning came, Camille took the family of four baby dinos to visit our Third Floor Residents. Their faces just lit up and were smiling and had a great time watching the “little ones” singing and dancing to the tune of “if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands”. The Residents just loved to see them “performing” in their rooms. When the afternoon came and we had to change our “Bingo dynamics” because the Residents needed to stay in their rooms, we decided to bring the “Dino-Mammas” to the floors. Our Department acquired two inflatable dinosaurs, so Camille rode the “Raptor” and I rode the “T-Rex”. Each of us brought two of the Baby Dinos and went visiting the First and Second Floors this time. No doubt, there were surprising smiles everywhere! But even though this got our Residents really happy, at the end of the day they asked: “but we are having Bingo another day, right?” Ha, ha… Bingo always wins!
Our Department was very excited about having our “Family and Friends Halloween Parade”. However, like many other things this year, we had to cancel it. But that didn’t stop us from having a “Door Spooktacular Contest”. A staff member teamed up with a Resident to decorate his or her door. The deadline was October 30 and by November 3, Sister G. announced a winner from each floor. Some teams chose to go more into the “spooky” side, while others went more towards “Fall Decor”. Either way it created a great sense of team work and unity between those participating, along with some good and healthy competition to have the best decorated door. Nurses, CNAs, Physical Therapists and other departments participated in making this possible.
On October 31, we celebrated Halloween with an “Angelic Happy Hour”. Camille and I grabbed some angel wings and halos. We went throughout the different floors with golden-oldies music and the Residents’ favorite drinks. We also distributed bags of “Trick-or-Treat” candy, that our awesome donors donated for this occasion. Thank you very much! All of you made our Residents’ Halloween a little sweeter with your treats!
November first and second are greatly celebrated every year in different places around the World. The first is All Saints’ Day and the second All Souls’ Day. This was an opportunity to celebrate “El Dia de los Muertos” (Day of the Dead, which includes the two festivities mentioned before). One of our Residents used to host an Open House every year for her whole family and friends. This was a memorable event for all of them. Three years ago, when she moved here to her new Home, she inspired us to host one here. Therefore, so we did and with great success. This year, though it was very different, we were able to bring the Dia de Muertos display to all our favorite people in the comfort of their Rooms. We decorated one of our big metal laundry carts with “papel picado” – colorful tissue paper cut into different shapes, that is said to represent air. Also, in our display were a couple of colorful painted skulls and a picture of a little girl that a Resident’s niece painted for her. These represented loved ones that passed away and that we wanted to remember and honor. There were flowers, more specifically marigolds, also known as cempasuchil in places like Mexico and Central America. We had small LED candles also, that were lit to symbolize the “light” of our loved ones. We are very grateful to the Rog Family who sponsored many of the decorations, treats and drinks for this activity, along with the Schapker Family, who always share the traditional Pan de Muerto – a traditional bread for this day – so Residents and staff get to have a little taste of it.
After being able to put these activities together, I realize the importance of “the little things”. Little things in our eyes, but that in the eyes and hearts of our Residents have a profound impact because that’s who they are and what they used to be part of. This is the legacy they passed to their families and that’s why is so important to me, that we do not let these opportunities of “sharing” traditions and customs pass without notice. Above all, we get all the inspiration of their stories, their laughs, their happy faces, but the most important of all, are their grateful hearts that mean so much to us.
I thank God for the opportunity that He gives me to work for The Little Sisters of the Poor. I think it is a very special gift that I do not take for granted. Lastly, I wanted to share with you a couple of my favorite quotes from St. Jeanne Jugan:
“It is a great grace that God has given you in calling you to serve the poor.”
“Making the elderly happy – that is what counts!”
With sincere appreciation for all you do in helping us to keep our Residents Happy and Active,