Someone recently asked me about the importance of various roles within a senior living community.
My immediate response arose from my knowledge of 1 Corinthians: “Just as a body, though one, has many parts … all its many parts form one body … there should be no division in the body, but … its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”
In other words, every role is equally important, every staff member critical to the quality service we provide.
The question dovetailed so nicely with our new customer service program at Diakon—Many Hands. One Heart. Service Excellence.—I felt compelled to write about it. One part of that program guides staff members toward the understanding that, no matter what our role is, we are all equally important to our mission. We cannot accomplish our goals any other way!
I am not a fan of political correctness. We have come far astray of the general knowledge that “sticks and stones….” Moreover, the limitations prompted by overzealous word-watchers can sometimes affect the ability to communicate freely and clearly.
However, I also recognize that while words may not physically injure us, they can hurt and often can rob people of dignity.
For example, I often ask students in a class I teach what is wrong with the phrase “the Alzheimer’s sufferer” or “the wheelchair-bound man.”
Know the answer?
Both phrases define people by a characteristic or condition. It’s far better in these cases to write or say “the man with Alzheimer’s disease” or “the woman who uses a wheelchair.”
I am 47 years old and have never owned a passport.
True, I have been out of the country to places in the Caribbean but that was back in the days when you could go on a cruise or fly to certain regions with just a birth certificate.
In fact, I had not even gotten on a plane until I was nearly 20 years old. We just didn’t have much money when I was growing up to take exotic trips overseas and in my younger years I was not much of a risk-taker. Even now, I’d prefer a trip to Disney’s Epcot over going to actual countries because I do not enjoy flying at all!
A few weeks ago, I had dinner with a very wise friend who said something that has stuck with me since then. We were talking about our young-adult kids and the things they are all doing and she said, “I want my ceiling to be their floor and I haven’t even reached my ceiling yet!”
What a great way of looking at how we prepare our children for adulthood!
It’s been my experience that the finest moments in life happen when you take a chance, whether it be confronting a fear head-on or setting a goal that you believe is beyond your reach but deciding to tackle it anyway.
The first annual Diakon Outdoor Adventure Challenge 5K Trail Run/Walk in 2012 initiated a series of shining moments that resulted from taking a chance, both for me and others.
I first heard of the race when I received a poster in the mail at my business, Train Yard Gym & Fitness. The event set itself apart from other 5Ks we had been asked to advertise because it included use of a high-ropes course, zip-line and Alpine Tower at the Diakon Wilderness Center after the race.
I was quickly sold on the concept of a beautiful trail run, lots of adventure-focused activities afterwards and the fact that my entry fee would help the at-risk youths the Diakon Wilderness Center serves. I pulled together a group of 10 runners and hikers that year and we were off to see what this was all about.
That first race day unexpectedly turned into an opportunity for me to take a chance. I had been looking forward to the race for months, but a few days before the event I started having hip pain and honestly didn’t know if I could run. I decided to go for it anyway and ended up coming in first place among the females.
Was I ever happy that I didn’t let my fears hold me back!
I recently took time to visit a former colleague in one of our senior living communities. We had a wonderful discussion about “old times,” events we experienced and people we knew 30 to nearly 40 years ago.
When I left, after an hour-and-a-half of conversation, I stopped at the front desk to sign out and spend a few moments with the administrative assistant/receptionist with whom I had emailed on occasion but never met.
“You know,” I mused as we spoke, “I wonder if the people here really know who this person is—not who he is, of course, but in terms of the history of our organization, of his role in that?”
Each year I love the Mother’s Day gifts, silly songs and the social media “shout outs.” I really do love them and if you want to continue doing those things, I will greatly appreciate it. However, this year I want you to know what I really want for Mother’s Day.
I want you to fully embrace that you are a person of value.
You may have experienced difficult circumstances or done things you regret, but none of those decreases your worth. What happens to you and what others say about you are not the things that define you.
During the times you experience rejection and loneliness, please remember that those times will pass. Do not perceive your value based on likes on your selfies or who sits at your lunch table. Don’t ever forget that you are so much more than what people see on the surface, so never let anyone make you feel as if you aren’t good enough. You are more than good enough.
William Swanger, MA, APR, senior vice president of Diakon’s Office of Corporate Communications & Public Relations, offers a blog post about his particular—and sometimes confusing—field.
I am proud of the field in which I work (and about which I teach part-time).
It’s called public relations.
And, yes, I am aware of our reputation for “spin” and for always painting things in the best light.
I would argue that’s not true public relations.
Perhaps it would help if we adopted the term some researchers use for analyzing the field: relationship management.
Get the distinction?
NOTE: Since 2006, Jeanne Doney and her therapy dog, Bentley, have volunteered at Diakon Senior Living – Hagerstown/The Ravenwood Campus. Together, the duo offers residents a special relationship that only two hearts, two hands and four paws can give.
Jeanne Doney shares her experience:
You might say that my dog, Bentley, is giving back to the community—especially since the community saved him. You see, Bentley is a rescue dog. He was once neglected, but now he not only receives an overabundance of love at home, but he is the center of attention on the Ravenwood campus of Diakon Senior Living – Hagerstown most Friday mornings.
Although Fridays are my days off—I work as a State of Maryland office supervisor in behavioral health—I tell Bentley that we have to go to “work.”
It is hard for me to remember a time that I didn’t love art.
In fact, I have been pencil sketching since I was a kid. Ironically enough, I used to draw pictures of airplanes. Little did I know that after college graduation, I would become a pilot—a profession that would take my sketching skills to new heights.
I flew for Pan American Airways. Traveling internationally for a living, I never left home without my sketchpad. It was my companion during layovers. Together, we ventured to some of the most stunning cities around the world. Sketching primarily with charcoal pencils, I captured the beauty of churches in Frankfort, the Opera House in Vienna, Ireland landscapes and street scenes in Warsaw, Africa and Tokyo.
Are you borrowing worries and anxieties from tomorrow and bringing them into today?
I often do that. You, too?
It must be a common practice for it’s mentioned in the Bible (Matthew 6). Will my health be compromised? Will the money last? Will health care or immigration policies affect me or those I love?