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A local assisted living facility and a middle school leadership class team up to provide a brighter outlook for local elderly residents
FROM LEFT: Ochoco Assisted Living Administrator Deana Hendrickson, Middle School Leadership Instructor Rob Bonner, and Ochoco Assisted Living Activities Director Dallas Endicott. Hendrickson and Endicott surprised Bonner and his class with donuts last week.
January 24, 2013
“It’s the little things in life that make the difference.”
That is the motto for the local Ochoco Village Assisted Living, and their new administrator is on a mission to make more connections with the community.
Most recently, Administrator Deana Hendrickson and Activities Director Dallas Endicott paid a visit to the Crook County Middle School Leadership Class with four boxes of bakery donuts. These treats were a reciprocal act in response to the students’ generosity towards the residents of the assisted living facility at Christmas.
Rob Bonner, who has taught the Crook County Middle School leadership class for more than five years, began the tradition of having each student of his class adopt a resident from Ochoco Assisted Living at Christmas, and buy them at least one gift.
Bonner said that every year, he works with one of the staff at the Middle School who has ties with the Ochoco Assisted Living facility. She gets a list of the residents, and his class adopts them and goes shopping for them. He added that the students buy the presents out of their own pocket.
“We don’t take it lightly, and it is a very neat thing for them to do.”
He indicated that the students get community service hours and some in-class credit, but they do it mostly for the spirit of the outreach.
“Just because they are not part of your family, doesn’t mean you can’t make somebody else’s day,” reflected eighth grade leadership student Baylee Rhinehart. She added that a lot of the residents at Ochoco Assisted Living don’t have any family to come and visit them.
“They are so thrilled, and so happy, and feel so lucky,” said Hendrickson of the gifts that the residents received from the stu-dents on Christmas Eve.
Resident Lolita Cramer has been a recipient of this generosity for the past four years.
“It makes you really feel not so alone, and makes you feel good that people care about other people,” exclaimed Cramer. “You hear so many things about young people being so bad. Most of them are really caring people.”
She indicated that it was also good for the students, and, “It probably makes them feel good to know they are making somebody happy.
“Each year they are different children,” she added. “There are a lot of good kids that care about us.”
Endicott said that she believes it is good for Bonner’s students to receive recognition. She thinks it fosters a sense of appreciation for their service and a spirit of volunteerism at an early age.
Hendrickson came into her position as the Administrator of Ochoco Assisted Living in August 2012. When she heard about Bonner’s yearly tradition, she knew she wanted to do something more for him and his students.
“We had to go above and beyond, to honor this man who is teaching these young kids who are 13-14 years old to give back, because that is going to shape their future and our future and who is out there in the world,” she emphasized.
Hendrickson is very appreciative of her staff, and said they go above and beyond to make life for their residents a little brighter. During Veteran’s Day, the staff got a large cake and put balloons on the chairs of the veterans.
“It was just huge — the difference in the dynamic of that day, and it was a couple of hours of our time,” she recalled. “They talked about it for a whole week.
“Fine tuning and fun — is what I call it.”
In addition to doing things for their residents, Hendrickson indicated that they are also helping the residents to connect with the community.
“It is really important that we connected with our community,” she added. “We want to acknowledge as many companies and businesses or people that interact with the residency, and say “thank you,” because they do a lot for us,” explained Hendrickson. “We want to give back, and the residents before weren’t able to do a lot of that.”
She said that many of the residents can’t get out as often as other people. She said that they are working on several projects that are resident-driven.
They are conducting a fundraiser to donate to the Start Making a Reader Today (SMART) program by purchasing books for their permanent library collection. Each book will give credit to the Ochoco Assisted Living.
Endicott noted that once per month, the residents also meet with students from the Kid’s Club. They have picnics in the summer and play bingo, and they will be spending time on Valentine’s Day with the group.
“It’s a warm fuzzy, basically, really to know that there are people out there who care, whether they are family or not,” said Hendrickson.