When Carl DePue mentioned that he would like to visit the Garden Spot Village Woodshop, Jackie Holzel, activities director and volunteer services coordinator at Maple Farm, quickly started to figure out how to make the visit happen.
In March, Carl as well as Jefferson Zoller, George King and Jake Echternach visited the woodshop and interacted with Garden Spot Village woodshop members. The visit sparked new relationships and created an opportunity to live with purpose in community for the men from Maple Farm and Garden Spot Village.
When Edna Beiler shared her favorite recipes with Maple Farm staff, the staff spent a day of baking and cooking, transforming the recipes into delightful treats. One of the recipes was for cinnamon rolls from scratch. Edna says the recipe takes all day, but the cinnamon rolls offer a special treat for special occasions. The recipe also makes a big batch, perfect for freezing. She laughs, “They never stayed in the freezer very long.”
Jackie takes simple comments like “What about a visit to the woodshop?” and “I make cinnamon rolls from scratch” and finds ways to keep life surprising and fun for the men and women who live at Maple Farm. Their suggestions for activities help her create a robust calendar of events each month.
Exploring New Ideas
Suggestions for an increase in art events led to paint nights. A recent Artist Night featured original works of art and creative writing. “I look for off-beat, unusual things,” Jackie says. “I want them to do something they have never done.”
Jenny Hill is a volunteer certified by TimeSlips, a national storytelling initiative that inspires creativity at any age. Hill volunteers every other week at Maple Farm, inspiring creative writing through photos. TimeSlips’ approach “opens storytelling to everyone by replacing the pressure to remember with the freedom to imagine.”
Jackie says, “TimeSlips encourages people to be creative. Many times, as we age, we don’t make any time to use our imaginations. Jenny is great in getting everyone in the circle to interact with her to create the stories.”
“People open up and ‘bloom’ during the sessions,” Jenny says. “Weariness is often wiped away, and there is always laughter. It’s a chance to connect with others through the collaborative effort of imagining and creating, which can move from the silly to the sublime and metaphoric. It really is great fun, and I always leave inspired by the beauty that the group has created, not just in the piece they wrote, but in the spirit of community that was built during the session.”
No One Left Behind
Jackie has a daily goal she shares with each of the four part-time staff members who work with her: everyone gets an enriching experience every day. Not everyone can attend paint nights, creative writing sessions or field trips. But Jackie believes everyone should get the opportunity to interact with a member of her team and do something enriching. Daily room visits help to meet this goal. Each day staff members fill a cart with a set of items and invite each person to participate. It may be a magazine cart, an art cart, a snack attack cart or a visiting pet through KPETS. Regardless of the theme for the day, the cart offers a channel to begin a conversation and a reason to stop and enrich a life.
“This is hands-down the best job in the world. I do this work for the honor of getting to know these people and learn about their lives,” Jackie says.