This year I celebrate eight years as the Executive Director of The Greens at Greenwich. I continue to be surrounded by tender hearts, in staff, residents and families alike. Joy is easily encountered, and compassion abounds. The environment is warm with colors of earth tones and bursts of reds. The furniture is conventional and reflects the preference and age of our residents. It is familiar. It feels like Home. We have thirty residents who live in their personally furnished apartments, enjoy two lounges and a great room for dining and socializing and a walking garden that can take your breath away.
As the Executive Director I bring professional expertise and passion to my work. As a board-certified supervisor of drama therapy and a licensed creative arts therapist and administrator, developing a creative arts therapy program and a teaching site for master’s level students was an important part of my first year’s work. Adding the arts as an integral part of the philosophy of care at The Greens at Greenwich was well received and added to the already unique assisted living community.
My education in the arts and becoming a creative arts psychotherapist has informed my overall philosophy and my work. “Celebrate the unexpected!” I encourage the celebration of the unexpected. I am invested in honoring lives and embracing as well as creating family. I believe in the soul and spirit of every human being and look to engage it every day. I have many more lessons to learn from the sages who surround me.
Aunt Catherine, who preferred to be called Aunt Kitty, always had a fresh flower in her hair. In spending time with her I learned how to look at a flower with awe, to listen carefully to the music in nature and to find the story hidden in a sigh. As she aged, her stories became more colorful, stranger and more humorous and I would often encourage her to share a story and a song. Aunt Kitty was one of the happiest people I have ever known. She also had a most tender heart.
No matter who we are or what journey we are on, our desire to communicate to ourselves or another is an essential part of our humanity. Each one of our residents has long rich histories. They are lost in the memories within the mind, but not in the body or the spirit. There is still uniqueness in the way a former seamstress touches any fabric, a librarian looks through a book or a custodian assesses his environment. We can identify a former teacher or a nurse in the way in which they relate to one another. At The Greens, I encourage staff to look and sense beyond the words. Beyond the obvious. The story beyond the words is the story worth exploring.
Our entire staff receives in service training in working with people with memory impairment. Nurses, nursing assistants, arts psychotherapists, office staff, housekeepers and chefs all understand the diseases of dementia and engage with residents every day. The pride and commitment they have in their work is reflective in their longevity.
Laughter, joy, tears, and comfort are felt in abundance at the Greens. It is palpable and I am proud that we all have learned to celebrate and honor the humanity that represents us all.