Monday, February 15, 2010

Lot to Learn from Elders

The Salisbury Post was nice enough to print the below for me as a column on 2-15-10:

My mother forwarded an email from a friend, 95-year-old Grace, formerly of North Carolina and now living close to family in Sacramento. Grace was accidentally in the Sacramento Marathon a few months ago. She and her daughter-in-law had to dodge runners while crossing the road after church. In the email, she also reflected on Dec. 7, the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. In 1941, Mrs. Cloninger and the church choir were in a radio station in Billings, Montana performing a Christmas concert when their performance was interrupted with the news. Mrs. Cloninger wrote her email in such a light, happy tone. The telling of new and old news and current events indicates a woman who is keeping up better than I am. Oh, and she’s emailing!

That reminds me of 104-year-old Pauline Iddings, a friend who lives at the Lutheran Home at Trinity Oaks in Salisbury. A Catawba College student and I visited Mrs. Iddings in mid-November. She graduated from Lenoir-Rhyne University in 1926, me a few years later. Mrs. Iddings and I snickered over LR beating Catawba at football, but the student, Dana, noted that hasn’t happened very often lately. To carry on an enjoyable conversation with a 21-year-old and a 104-year-old is a treat.

Remember in the ‘60s when the hippies said never trust anyone over 30? Now where do we draw the line: a hundred and five? Every person has so much to share, regardless of age. There are so many home-bound elders with wisdom to give, and so many others who need that knowledge. This is what I call a chocolate and peanut butter moment. Their wisdom (the chocolate) and our need to know (the peanut butter) combine to create something that is even better! Can you tell I like peanut butter cups?

One of the most enjoyable and important things I’ve ever done was to join two friends from church in visiting a home-bound man from our church. We called in advance. His wife was thrilled at the opportunity, and she told us his favorite ice cream. On the appointed day, we three arrived with a pint of homemade butter pecan. He was not very talkative until the ice cream was gone, but then we learned things about him, our church, and our community we’d have never known. I need to do more of that, as do most of us. It’s good for all of us, chocolate and peanut butter!

A retiree approached me years ago about volunteering at one of our Lutheran Homes. He had determined that men don’t have enough man stuff to do. For over ten years he has adopted every male resident in one of our facilities. He comes weekly to visit every male resident. What a blessing for each person he visits! What a blessing to him!

Our elders have a lifetime of memories, experiences, and life lessons that we can enjoy and learn from,…if only we would take the time to stop and listen. How do you go about doing this? Just look around. You have a neighbor that rarely gets out. You see an older couple at church. Every nursing home and assisted living in the area has people that need you right now. You can walk into any nursing home and assisted living and in a snap be paired with a person who needs you. Almost everyone loves company, even if it’s just to sit and visit. But let me warn you of one dangerous side effect. Visiting your elders is addicting! The more you give, the more you get. Before you know it, you have a whole new family, a whole new set of friends!

Go visit an elder this week. Ask him where he was on Pearl Harbor Day. Ask her where she was on New Year’s Eve when she was 21. Ask her what her favorite Valentine’s Day was. Ask. You’ll be amazed, entertained, and entertaining!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A recent picture of site work as we prepare to build a new Lutheran Home in New Hanover County.

Wilmington Update

John Frye is LSA's Wilmington construction manager and will operate the Lutheran Home in Wilmington when he gets it built. He has agreed to occasionally send us an update, which I will post here. So here is John's update for today:

I wanted to share an update on the progress of the new facility in Wilmington.

After the bids were opened in July, and the contract was signed with McKinley Construction of Wilmington in September, 2009, then the lengthy process of dealing with the permitting agencies began. The plans have been reviewed and approved by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, and permits were applied for from the NC Dept of Environment and Natural Resources for our water main extension, and also for storm water management, from the Dept of Transportation for driveway and access permits, from the US Army Corps of Engineers for wetlands delineation and discharge permits, from the New Hanover County Department of Engineering for plan approval, special inspection coordination, and for a permit for a “land disturbing activity” to maintain soil erosion control. We thought we had everything we needed in hand when we discovered that the New Hanover County Division of Environmental Health had to complete a plan review in order to issue a permit to operate a food service establishment prior to the issuance of our county building permit. This involves evaluating everything from our prospective menus to who will be servicing our dumpsters, and has not been completed and awarded as of this date, but we are working diligently to make it happen.

We have been able to do site work, however, and have been installing the underground infrastructure to prepare for the actual beginning of construction. As is usually the case, some unexpected issues have been discovered that have caused a delay in our overall progress and have complicated our path toward completion. The most critical issue in the discovery of a layer of unsuitable soil on the building site, which is not uncommon in New Hanover County. This resulted in some redesign to the foundation plans and some additional expense for removing and replacing the unsuitable soil. But the solution has been within our ability to accomplish and we are again on the way toward construction.

Next week marks the beginning of the excavation of the stormwater retaining pond, which will be a milestone in site preparation. Some of the soil from the pond will be used to build up the construction site, and soon thereafter we will be ready to pour the foundations and building concrete pad.

More news on our progress will be shared as we reach new milestones, and we eagerly anticipate this journey toward our new Wilmington Home.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Snow Thanks

I received what may be a first. Joni, the weekend RN Supervisor at Lutheran Home - Winston-Salem sent me a letter praising the LHWS maintenance staff of Bo, Willie, and Keith. They worked long hours to get adequate nursing staff transported to the Lutheran Home in the snow, so our residents are cared for. As you know, we don't close for snow! When they weren't transporting staff, the three were shoveling snow, salting sidewalks, and generally keeping everyone safe. Joni commented this was all done cheerfully and courteously!

Bo, Willie, and Keith would not be considered by some as essential care providers. I have said and written many times that it takes every staff member in every department on every shift to fulfill our mission. In this case, where would our residents be if staff couldn't get to work. All of a sudden, Bo, Willie, and Keith took their place at the top of the list. And as always, behind them are over one hundred fellow staffers that are cleaning, cooking, washing laundry, providing activities, providing care, paying the bills, and on and on! Every job is vital!

This Winston-Salem story is played out at every one of our facilities, with the same dedicated, vital staffers.

Oh, one more thing, it is rare that a staff member takes the time to write a letter to her administrator and copy me to praise other staffers. It is refreshing and lots of fun. Thanks Joni!

Thank God for all our faithful saints across LSA!