Learning from each other
Vance County Cooperative Extension’s 4-H youth development program visited a nursing home Wednesday to explore health careers, but it was residents’ positive spirits that left the biggest impression.
Annabelle Webb, a junior at Northern Vance High School, said she was excited to learned about her dream career — physical therapy — but stories from residents in the facility made the trip worthwhile.
Gladis Massenburg, for example, amazed by the black and white mix of the 4-H group, told stories of racial barriers she faced growing up, and Denise Downy told jokes to go along with her accounts of illnesses and strokes.
“They inspired us and told us to push on when they are fighting this internal fight,” Webb said. “Most places like this aren’t really considered a happy place, but they are laughing. To see them chuckle is just really great.”
She and six others in the 4-H program visited Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation Center as part of a Summer Fun service project coordinated by extension agent Carol Edwards.
Edwards said she volunteered at the facility when she was young, which helped her decide to become a nurse.
“This is just what I am trying to teach them,” she said. “You never know what you are going to learn when you come here. We want them to come back and visit again, too. A lot of the elderly don’t have family come visit them.”
The visitors took a tour of the facility and learned about different nursing home jobs, such as housekeeping, therapy and social work.
“When a lot of people think of nursing homes, they just think of nurses and patients,” Edwards said. “We want them to be able to see the different careers that are involved with it.”
Participants occasionally asked questions about the employees’ professional backgrounds. Amber Null, a sixth-grader at Vance Charter School, said she was amazed at how many personnel there were.
“I learned that it’s a big responsibility,” she said. “It takes a lot of people to take care of one person in their room.”
After the tour, residents William Robinson and Virginia Stanford directed 4-H’ers as they planted and watered flowers in the facility’s backyard.
Robinson said he learned the hobby when he was younger.
“I lived in a neighborhood where the men tried to outdo each other to see who had the prettiest yard,” he said. “It takes a lot of work.”
Young and old alike participated in arts and crafts time, building birdhouses to decorate the facility’s campus and decorating ornaments for residents to keep in their rooms.
Downy said she enjoyed seeing young faces.
“It brought me back to the days when I was in 4-H,” she said. “I look forward to them coming back.”
Edwards said this would be the first of two visits. The event had to be broken into two sessions to accommodate the overwhelming number of young people who wanted to come.
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