A mother with her toddler son, a husband with his young wife, a daughter with her frail father – they sit in the emergency room waiting with fear of the unknown. Once ushered back to a room, multiple doctors, nurses and technicians come in to ask questions, take them for tests and administer medications. Waiting for the answer can take hours. Waiting for the pain to subside is difficult. Having a family member or friend with you makes all of this a little easier.
At Springmoor, we are all family. If a resident needs to go to the Emergency Room for a fall, for shortness of breath or any other need, we will go too! A family member is always called first. However, often the family lives out of town or even out of state. Perhaps they are traveling on business or even tied up in a meeting. If they can’t go with their family member, we will.
There are ten administrative staff members that rotate a pager through the business week. A Stewart Health Center employee carries it during the evening hours and the Springmoor Senior Staff carries the pager on the weekends. There is always an extended family member here for our residents.
An administrative staff member writes, “Our primary goal is to make sure our residents feel connected to us and do not feel alone. One of the best feelings I have when accompanying them is the gratitude they show and the feeling that I am able to help during a time of distress. One of my most recent experiences is with a resident who had no family locally or even in the state. When I arrived at the Emergency Room, I introduced myself. The resident smiled and said thank you for coming. I then asked her if she needed me to stay or if she felt okay by herself. She asked that I stay a little while until she knew what was happening. While she was being assisted, she periodically looked at me and smiled. Once, when I stepped out of the room, I heard her ask, “Where did my lady go?” She seemed relieved when they told her I was still there but standing outside the door, waiting to come back in. When I returned, she looked at me again and smiled. The look of relief and peace on her face was priceless. Although she never really said anything to me while she was there, her expression and smile was all I needed.”
From another staff member: “I have been many times to the ER with residents. The first question asked of me is usually from a nurse, ‘Are you a family member?’ When I reply, ‘No, I’m just a friend. I am from Springmoor.’ Their response is always one of surprise and appreciation.
While waiting for doctors and tests results, the resident often wants to call their family. I have offered my phone or even taken notes from the nurse to ask the family. I have been there to fluff a pillow, raise the bed, get water or call for a bedpan. Laying on stretcher in the ER can be a stressful experience for anyone. Being in pain makes this even more difficult. Having a friend eases the burden. I have heard numerous stories about resident’s children, their family, their travels, their childhood homes and so much more. These stories warm my heart. We may not have even known each other when I arrive but afterwards, I feel like I have a new parent, a new friend. This time together has always felt like we both were given a special gift.
Our Chaplains visit residents in the hospital on a daily basis. Robin says of this unique service, “One of the many remarkable things that makes Springmoor stand out from other retirement communities is its staff. Not only is the staff dedicated to their unified mission of making each day special and valuable for each resident, Springmoor employees have put in place extra steps to ensure resident satisfaction on every level. The emergency pager policy is one of these steps.
This seemingly small task is a huge gift. The staff person, carrying the pager, has to stop what they are doing and perhaps have others cover for them while they go to one of the several area hospitals. I have seen first hand, as a chaplain, how very important this service is for the resident who finds themselves unexpectedly in the Emergency Department. Sometimes they have only a short visit with a staff person, as a family member arrives quickly, or sometimes it can be a long day. We all know how slow time moves in the ER. This small gesture, of not being alone in the time when you feel the most vulnerable, is so appreciated by the residents, their families and the chaplains. These busy Springmoor employees help lend that comforting hand for your loved ones, when an emergency arises.” Continue reading →
The young dancer laces up her pointe shoes for the first time and the magic of the ballet begins. In her lifetime, as she advances through many lessons, auditions, performances and professional debuts she will go through hundreds of pairs of pointe shoes. A professional ballerina wears a new pair for each performance and a different pair for each rehearsal. In one season, she will wear 100 to 120 pairs of shoes at a cost of $80 each.
No two pairs are alike. No two dancers are alike. The process of finding the correct shoe for her foot and finding her manufacturer can be a long process for each dancer. The shoes are molded to fit a dancer’s foot, from the toe box to the satin heel; each shoe is created for an individual ballerina.
LaVerne and Bob Wells were living in Washington, DC during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Bolshoi Ballet was performing at The National Theatre and La Verne had two tickets. Bob remembers the story well. He had never been to a ballet and really didn’t think this would interest him. LaVerne talked him into going with her and the magic of the ballet – the dancers, the music and the performance – was amazing. He was hooked! When asked to describe the feeling, he simply asks with a smile, “Oh, have you ever been?”
When the Wells moved to Raleigh the local ballet company was still in their developmental stage. The two traveled through the south to many competitions to see International and National performances. In 1998, they became season ticket holders to The Carolina Ballet. They have since become sponsors of the pointe shoe program.
Elice McKinley was their first point shoe recipient. After many years of dancing, she has recently retired at the age of 30. The Wells had not only watched her career but become personal friends as well. Meeting her often before or after a performance. The couple was recently paired with McKenzie Van Oss, who joined the company in 2015. She began her training when she was only a toddler, in Green Bay, Wisconsin. And has officially become part of the Carolina Ballet at the age of 21. She has also studied classical piano.
The Wells have been fans of the Carolina Ballet for the past twenty years. They rave about the addition of Robert Weiss, former Artistic Director of the Pennsylvania Ballet and principal dancer at New York City Ballet under the direction of George Balanchine. He was hired in 1997 to move the regional dance company, Raleigh Dance Theatre, Inc. to a professional company status. The Wells agree that the company is now one of the Top 10 in the nation. The North Carolina Symphony often accompanies the Carolina Ballet. There is an artistic staff of the thirteen; an administrative staff of twenty-seven and numerous volunteers all supporting the forty-four dancers.
Since their move to Springmoor, the Wells have changed their season tickets to the Sunday matinee performances. Joining their neighbors, they can travel together on the bus, arrive at the door and never worry about parking, traffic or the weather. Springmoor takes them from door to door for each performance. They often go on their own to watch a dress rehearsal or to a social event sponsored by the volunteer supporters. Continue reading →
Now that you have retired, what are you doing with all of your free time? The Administration for Community Living has declared this Older American Month and is asking the same question. They are challenging us to Age Out Loud: Are you taking charge? Are you striving for wellness? Are you focusing on your independence? Are you advocating for yourself and others?
We ask these questions to one of our newest residents, Jan Hagarty. She toured the Springmoor Community with her son and her daughter-in law. They live in the area and thought it would be a great place for her to really retire. Really, meaning better weather and closer to her family. The words, slowing down are not in her vocabulary.
Jan and her husband raised two boys in the Northern Virginia area. When their youngest was only five, they decided as a family that they should have a group project to help others. As a nurse, administrator, volunteer, mother and teacher, she describes herself more as a server than a taker. Teaching their boys this lesson was important to the Hagarty family.
Their youngest son, Kevin, suggested they become a foster family. He wanted one of his classmates to come and live with them. The idea was hatched and 21 children later; the family has been a strong advocate for foster parenting and adoption. Their seventh foster child, Marvin, came to them when he was only five days old. He was adopted into their family at age two.
When Jan and her husband decided to leave the hectic life-style and traffic congestion in the DC area, they moved to the mountains of West Virginia. Her husband was quick to say, “we are going to volunteer, we are going to be involved and we are going to make a difference in our new community.”
Jan has kept these lessons with her as she has made her move to Springmoor. She arrived in mid-March. Step One: get involved! She took the Springtimes activity book and signed up for every activity that she could. She tried the lectures, she tried the outings, she tried the exercise classes, and she tried the art classes. The list was long but she knew that if she didn’t step out, she would be sitting in her chair and reading all day.
Striving for Wellness
Reading all day sounds like fun but not to a great way to stay active and healthy. She volunteered to work in the library as another way to surround herself with books. She has joined the Springmoor tai chi class and the yoga class. These additions have been great for her joints and her movement. She is feeling better than ever before!
Focusing on Independence
Not only is she jumping in to activities on campus but she is also learning her way around the city of Raleigh. Starting with the surrounding neighborhoods, she has found a church, an abundance of grocery stores and many new places to eat and shop. She hopes involvement in the church will enable her to find volunteer jobs in the community. She wants to enjoy all that her new city has to offer. Continue reading →
“OLLI provides a challenge and stimulus to areas of knowledge and thinking, which stimulates my creativity, sparks long-forgotten areas of interest, and helps me discover new insights and thinking.” (OLLI member)
– The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload
– From Seeking Rights to Wielding Power: Women and the Supreme Court
– I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool: Author, Lee Smith
– History of Electricity – A Shocking Tale
– The Governors I Have Known
– Study Trip – Carolina Tiger Rescue
These are just a few of the many OLLI course offerings for Spring 2017.
In the Beginning
The continuing education program for older adults began at NC State in 1991. Originally named Encore, the classes began with a group of 653 participants. Today, the program has grown to over 1,500 active annual members. With 108 short courses, 56 lectures, 22 study trips and 218 volunteer instructors; it is a program that members say they participate in for the “joy of learning.”
With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day, the need for intellectually challenging learning experiences will continue to increase. Bernard and Barbro Osher saw a need in the field of education to help this generation live a healthy and stimulating life style. Retirees with vast experiences need a way to stay engaged, share their backgrounds, help in the community and broaden their own education.
Beginning with an initial grant to the Fromm Institute, an educational and charitable foundation, the Oshers spent years researching possible ways to offer lifelong learning programs to seasoned adults. They wanted to offer opportunities for volunteer leadership, engage emeritus university faculty and offer exciting courses (without exams) in a college setting. Today the OLLI program is offered in all 50 states and the District of Columbia on 120 university campuses.
Members have been quoted as saying that they have “fallen in love with learning,” often signing up for more courses than time allows. Sharing life experiences and careers has brought new groups of friends together. Their intellectual and social horizons are being expanded with each class they take. Dr. Mary Bitterman, President of The Bernard Osher Foundation, says “older adults consider retirement not as the end of a boring or demanding job but as the opportunity to do more.”
She describes retirement as the “3rd age or midcourse” for adults 65+ years old. They are ready for a second or third career. This age group wants to be productively engaged and establish new patterns and a new network of friends as they step into retirement. Learning experiences and social facilitation are what make OLLI such and important resource for many in our community.
Not only do members take courses but they also volunteer in Wake County, teach classes, recruit new members and assist with administrative duties within the program. You will find NC State OLLI members at The Food Bank of Raleigh, Stop Hunger Now, A Note in the Pocket and other non-profit organizations throughout the city. Linda Denison, an active Springmoor participant, helps write the newsletter and volunteer her time at the Food Bank.
With only a $50 yearly membership fee, participants also have access to many of the NC State facilities and activities on campus. Jan Christensen, another active OLLI participant, enjoys the extra Wolfpack activities of campus theatre and sporting events. One OLLI member was quoted as saying that taking classes at The McKimmon Center proves to be quite an inspiring walk as he crosses the campus. Mixing with a college-aged crowd keeps him healthy, engaged, informed and optimistic. Privileges to the library system, discounts and the Corner Café and the Campus Cinema are available. Cultural events and the Stewart Theatre and the Thompson Theatre are also easily accessible to members. Free admission to non-revenue Wolfpack sporting events is also a wonderful perk.
Jan says that many of the courses fill-up even before the ink is dry on the semester brochures. She and fellow Springmoor neighbor, Dottie Davis, use their online registration each semester. The instructors, mostly Professors Emeritus from Meredith College, William-Peace University and NC State can be found leading the classes. Area authors, Lee Smith and Jim Clark can fill up a 150-seat classroom quickly.
Field trips accompany many of the offerings. Jim Clark’s latest class is scheduled for a four-night trip to Asheville to finish his Mountain Women by Mountain Men. Jan is taking a class now on Brazil. She has toured the country before and found this a great way to “see” it again! Continue reading →
“Being able to read at grade level is a predictor of success and high school graduation,” says Kati Mullan, executive director of Read and Feed. “If you can read, you can do anything.”
Springmoor welcomes Heather Cross, Read and Feed’s Volunteer Coordinator, to our Resident’s Association Meeting today. For those that heard her speak before you know that she is very inspiring and passionate about their outreach activities in Wake County.
Last September, we traveled to the Cary offices to help assemble 600 tote bags to begin the year’s program. One group of Springmoor volunteers helped with the morning shift and another followed in the afternoon. Together, they began our first partnership with Read and Feed.
Read and Feed – in the Beginning
In October of 2007, Jan Frantz, Read and Feed’s founder, quit her corporate job, purchased an RV and drove it to Penny Road Elementary in Cary. As a volunteer tutor at Northwood Elementary, she began to see that every child’s opportunities are not the same. Struggling to read on an empty stomach is difficult. Having no reading resources at home adds to the problem facing many of Wake County’s lower income students.
Jan spent many months researching the issues these children face. She found that seventy-four percent of children not reading on grade level by the third grade would find it impossible to ever catch up. As the subjects get more complex, reading becomes more and more important. If a child can’t read, their struggles begin. Confidence is lost, grades are low and bad behavior can start.
Providing a nurturing environment as well as a warm meal makes learning so much easier. Each child in the program spends a little more than an hour with a volunteer each week. Eating, reading, listening, and spelling vocabulary words fill their hour. The program comes to the areas where the children are in the greatest need. The RV is driven to sites close to their homes. Two groups are served each night in local community centers or in the Read and Feed RV. The child is given three books each night to take home with them.
Jan has since partnered with the Interfaith Food Shuttle to provide warm meals. Food is also donated or purchased at a discount from local restaurants. She has found volunteers across the county and continues fund-raising events so that the program can bring all of our children up to grade level.
The Food Drive Begins
Springmoor will participate this month with the collection and assembly of the children’s food bags. The bags will be filled with food for the children to eat during their spring break. Without a school breakfast and lunch program, many children in Wake County go without a meal during their day.
We are asking for donations of food as well as financial support. Our teams will pack each bag with three meals for a day or bags with snacks for the seven-day vacation. Springmoor will provide the tote bag and the food for each bag. The collection bins have been filling up but we are still in need of a few specific items: pasta, pasta sauce, canned vegetables, canned tuna or chicken, dried beans and canned milk.
The Convenience Store in our North Village lobby is an easy way to shop for your donations. The items most needed for the children’s bags are marked for easy shopping. You may also pick up items during your weekly grocery store run.
Assembling the bags will take place at the end of our food drive, the last week of March. On April 3, we will take a bus trip to Fox Road Elementary School to deliver our Read and Feed donations. A second trip on April 4 is planned for the Homestead neighborhood’s Read and Feed site. Our Resident Life Department is asking for volunteers for all of these activities. We would love to have your help! Continue reading →
It began with an announcement in her church bulletin. Marie Jones read an article about The North Carolina Literacy Council’s need for volunteers. They were teaming up with her church to teach tutors. With her children managing their own households, her “tribe” of grandchildren (a full dozen), and the recent death of her husband in 2009, she knew it was time to find a new path.
With a major in Economics and a minor in Social Studies from Duke, she had enrolled again in school when her own children were teenagers. She became certified to teach K-7. Her excellent high school English teachers at New Hanover High in Wilmington had planted the seeds. So now on her new path, she was ready to tum her education into teaching.
Her first student with The North Carolina Literacy Council was a mother of twins who hadn’t finished high school. With Marie’s guidance, the two met twice each week for a year. She’s proud to say that her student obtained her GED 18 years after her original high school enrollment. Marie believes that “if you don’t keep learning, you can easily get behind in a year’s time. The best way to learn,” she says, “is to teach.” Today’s technology also keeps her on her toes and eager to learn. The joy she receives from her students has given her a new purpose in her life.
After her move to Springmoor, a fellow resident called within a few days of her arrival and asked if she would join the English as a second language (ESL) teaching program. She said it took her only a few seconds to say, “Yes!” Bim Flett, originally from Thailand, became her first student. They’ve worked together over the past two years, meeting weekly for lessons. Bim has been in Raleigh for eight years and works part-time in the North Village dining room at Springmoor. Before her arrival in the States, she had studied the English language in a university in Thailand. She’s found that learning to speak fluently in very challenging.
“Brussel sprouts” brings a laugh each time Marie and Bim say it to each other. Learning new sounds and letters that aren’t in the Thai alphabet are very difficult. It’s been helpful for Bim to use a mirror to learn the placement of her tongue, teeth, and lips to pronounce some new English alphabet sounds. Since she and Marie have been working together, Bim has learned to read well and has broadened her vocabulary. Her writing, speaking, and spelling have all advanced. As a reward for her steady work, Marie recently took Bim to the Cameron Village Library. At age 55, Bim got her first library card. The excitement on her face was worth everything to Marie. Knowing that she could check out books at any time was the best gift Bim could have received.
With spring approaching, Marie has planned trips to the Museum of Natural Sciences, the North Carolina Museum of Art, and for fun to Pullen Park. She’s excited to ride the Carousel with Bim! The two explore language through outings as well as through books. Last month, Bim asked Marie to show her how to set a proper table with a full place setting. In return, Bim taught her proper etiquette for a dinner guest in a Thai home and described the contrast in table settings and table manners.
When asked about Marie, Bim quickly says, “I feel like she is my mother not my teacher.” The confidence she has given her helps every day as she speaks more and more of her second language.
A Second Student
Miriam Massoud has been a Springmoor employee for ten years. She came to the United States from Egypt as a licensed, experienced veterinarian. In order to practice in the US, she must pass the English language proficiency exam before she’s allowed to take the Veterinary Board exam. Since last fall, Marie and Miriam have worked together to prepare for this rigorous test in April or May. All South Village Springmoor residents who know and love Miriam are pulling for her to make her dream of practicing veterinary medicine again a reality!
When describing her teacher, Miriam says, “Mrs. Jones goes above and beyond to help me. She puts in a tremendous amount of effort to prepare the lessons each week. She is tough when she needs to be and always keeps me on the right track. She doesn’t take no for an answer!” Miriam recalls the day that Marie gave her a binder for her work. It had her name on it, and it has since become filled with homework assignments. “She touched my heart when she bought the TOELF (Test of English as a Foreign Language) book.” No one had ever dedicated so much time and research to help Miriam.
The two meet weekly for two hours and always on a day when Miriam is not scheduled to work at Springmoor. Marie has found that Miriam is much more focused when she hasn’t had a long day on her feet supervising the dining room staff. They meet in Marie’s apartment and she always offers coffee, tea or cookies. Miriam has told her she doesn’t need to do this too but Marie insists, “You always wait on us, so let me wait on you today.”
Marie did her research online and has found numerous lessons and practice tests to help Miriam. The 4 to 5 hour exam is broken down into four categories: listening, speaking, reading and writing. The writing and speaking parts have proven to be the most difficult. For her part, Miriam researched keyboarding. She never had used a typewriter so writing a timed essay during the exam is a skill she had to master too. She now studies each night with her high school and college sons by her side. Continue reading →