When the pandemic of COVID-19 started spreading across the country, I found myself like many others questioning how this would impact the organization I work for, the community I live in, my family, friends and myself. I never dreamed that the reality of the disease would hit so close to home for me. This week, we lost our first healthcare worker to the “virus” as people are calling it. That healthcare worker happened to be a friend of mine of over 25 years.
When I started working at Summit Manor in 1995, Pam was the person selected to train me as a Certified Nursing Assistant. We instantly bonded and became fast friends. She taught me all the “ins and outs” of being a great CNA and ultimately how to care for the people we served in a way that was personal. I can remember that she always took the extra time to make sure the elder had anything they needed. She often purchased and brought in body sprays and beautiful scented soaps for the elders she cared for.
When the position of Activity Director opened up at Summit Manor a few years after that, she begged me to apply. Oddly enough, I wasn’t sure if that was “for me”. She kept assuring me that she thought I would do such a great job at it. When to my surprise, I got the job, she was there to support me at every turn.
In fact, we spend most of our time “scheming” up new ideas and things as she would say. We built so many Christmas floats for the Christmas parade that we were near professional at it. Pam always loved to do the skirting of the float. We did it ourselves (because we were a bit picky) and learned the art of weaving letters and designs in there using paper napkins! One year, I recall us having the idea to build a paper-mache bell. The theme that year was “Old Fashioned Christmas” and we wanted to do giant ornaments. It was one of our many failed attempts! Overall we built 10 Christmas floats together unbelievably. The Christmas floats were always built at Brenda Williams’ house, the administrator at that time. We spent many nights there with our girls, Brie and Mary Beth, working on these! Also so many other stakeholders like Dana, Teresa, Ashley, and the list goes on!
One year, we got the bright idea we would start raising money for Relay For Life. Pam was always front and center to help with those fundraisers. Often times, she and others would donate from their own pockets to host the fundraisers.
Pam was such a beautiful person. She had unwavering dedication to the elders of Summit Manor. As all heroes do, she selflessly gave to them. She spent 32 years serving those in our community who needed her most. In a decade, she only called in one time. She dedicated her life to service to others and that can never be forgotten.
Let’s all hug each other a little tighter today. Let’s stand up and be brave. Let’s do what we need to do to eradicate COVID-19 so we don’t lose anymore precious lives like this. Let’s do it for Pam.