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June 10, 2010

Home Notes: 'Everyone knows your name'

BY VIVIAN ALLISON & DEANNA GABLE

—  The Clara Welch Thanksgiving Home, just like that once-popular television drinking establishment, is a place where everybody knows your name.

By the time their first day is over, new staffers have learned the names of all twenty-six residents.

It may take a bit longer for the new resident to learn all thirty-five staff names. One thing is certain, there’s no such thing as anonymity at The Clara Welch Thanksgiving Home. We have had two new staff members join us in the last few weeks _ Melissa Bard in Personal Care and Sue Caraftis in Dining Services. We welcome them both and hope they enjoy our journey.

When we have one of our regular all-staff, in-service meetings, those who cook, those who clean, those who care for, those who cut grass, or cut the checks, all come together, while residents man the phones and doors. As we all sit comfortably in our activity room, we are informed on a pertinent health or safety issue. If you work at CWTH, you are responsible for a thorough knowledge of the building, daily resident issues, and what to do in case of an emergency. I feel safe and secure here because I am surrounded by trained professionals.

David Brooks of the New York Times writes that ``the self is not a fixed entity but a dynamic process of relationships.’’

When people offer themselves up to become a dynamic process, boredom, helplessness, and loneliness disappear. People who are a dynamic process are engaged and are engaging. Together they form a dynamic community.

Through frequent and authentic social intercourse, residents and staff achieve social intimacy. While at the Thanksgiving Home, I enjoy spontaneous interactions with people who belong to me, as I belong to them. I ask questions about historic events. We query each other on trivia. We converse about movies, art and politics, or just share how our day went.

We observe, compliment, and playfully poke fun at each other. The generational lines, the roles, client and server, all distinctions, fade, and we are like relatives in one family. Roxanne Murray’s second grade class from Cooperstown Central visited in May.

We enjoyed watching them do the May Pole in our Living Room and they performed a few songs for us. They are a terrific bunch of children.

Facilities Manager Frank Miller’s daughter Lauren and son Lucas visited the Home on their day off of school.

Lauren did a spectacular job showing a photo presentation of their trip to the Bronx Zoo over the holiday weekend.

Each week on Wednesdays we have a Surprise Activity.

We have had a Memory Game, Bean bag toss, Charades, Hangman, and a $20,000 Pyramid like game. The last one was by far the best attended with Margaret Rees, Jeanette Hansen, Sue Stevens, Martha Quinn, Maureen Micek, Doris Blomquist, Bobbie Mook, Ellen Hankin, Peg Hage, Wally Pickhardt, Dot Gardner, Hildegard Parr, Art and Natalie Laidlaw, along with staff Melissa Bard, Karen Lottridge, Darcey Schilling, Kathy Lindberg, Deanna Gable, Mary Butler, and Jan Scrafford. I think curiosity gets the best of everyone and they need to come and see what fun we will be having.

We have started monthly Eden meetings for residents and staff. May’s meeting we went around the room to find out each person’s ``Simple Pleasure.’’ Some were _ watching the sun rise, drinking coffee in the morning, chatting with friends, making new friends at the Home, sleeping, reading, children, and playing cards. Our Eden bulletin board in the Activity Room is filling up with magazine clippings depicting these ``Simple Pleasures.’’

``To life’s simple pleasures, and its finer things: may we always have the wisdom to appreciate all of the former, and the means to afford a few of the latter.’’ _ Laura L. Hirschfeld.