By Wendi Dressen
Cassia volunteers come to us for a variety of reasons – to gain experience in the senior care field, the desire to give back to the community, a connection to a staff member, the shared passion for seniors, etc. One of my favorite reason we gain a volunteer is when the family member of a resident stays as a volunteer, even if their loved one passes away. Such is the case with Chris Yohnke. Her mother, Catherine, was a resident at The Rosemount for three years, and she passed away a year ago. During the time Chris’s mother was at the Rosemount, Chris visited several times a week and got to know the staff and some of the other residents. Every fall a group from Chris’s church, Trinity Church, would organize an employee appreciation for the staff. They would create individual hand-written note cards thanking the staff, provide home-baked goods and generic little gifts for the staff to select and provided gift cards for the staff. In addition, the group from Trinity Church served refreshments and gave mini hand and neck massages. Chris said they wanted to affirm the staff and the importance of the care they provided to the Rosemount residents. With a staff appreciation like that, staff surely felt valued and affirmed!
After Chris’s mother passed away, Chris wanted to continue a connection and relationship with the Rosemount. Unfortunately, with COVID in full swing, the monthly birthday parties had been cancelled at the Rosemount, and Chris asked if she could organize birthday cards for both the residents and the staff. Starting last April, Chris receives a list of birthdays of staff and residents. She then asks family, friends, neighbors and church members to write or make five birthday cards. She gives them names and the date by which she needs the cards. Once she receives them, she organizes them and delivers them to the Rosemount, usually working a month in advance.
Each birthday person receives 8-10 cards with personal notes, drawings and words of encouragement. They are wrapped and labeled with the name and date so it is easy to be delivered on the appropriate birth dates. There are an average of 120 cards written each month. Chris has had over 100 different people writing the birthday cards. Some of these folks help each month and some periodically. How amazing to have that many people participating each month in bringing joy to the folks at the Rosemount!
“I receive the joy of passing the cards out to the residents. The residents enjoy knowing the community is writing birthday wishes to them personally,” says Kimberly Jansen Director of Activities and Volunteers at the Rosemount. “It brings joy on their special day.”
Volunteer Chris says, “I love inviting and encouraging people to share joy in this simple, yet meaningful way. Many of us are praying for the residents and staff, that their hope and joy are in Christ. The staff are the hands and feet of Jesus, every day, to the residents. I saw it first hand with my mom.” You could not say it better Chris! Your sentiment shows in your efforts and all those amazing birthday wishes!
Thanks so much Chris for sharing your gift of organization and your passion for uplifting folks at the Rosemount. We were blessed to serve your mother and we equally blessed to have you volunteering. What an impact you and your helpers have had for our staff and residents!
Wendi Dressen is Cassia’s Director of Volunteer Engagment.