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Sep 7, 2008

Nursing Home News -- September 2008



With election season upon us, we have been hearing the word “change” a lot.  In our little world of Friends Across the Ages it is also a season for change, and although change can be challenging, overall we are very excited about this new season and are looking forward to the future.


Most of you are aware that since January of this year the Friends Across the Ages Board of Directors and other dedicated volunteers have been involved in strategic planning for the next five years.  In the course of our reflections, Steve and Allison came to realize that we are ready for a change in our roles with Friends Across the Ages.  We have been in charge of this organization in one way or another for almost 10 years. We are making a shift to having the leadership of Friends Across the Ages shared by many people, instead of us being the main focal point   Ideas for a new leadership structure have emerged from the strategic planning sessions, and starting this fall the Board will be moving towards implementing some of those ideas.


Over the summer an action committee chaired by Friends Board VP Jon Shinn authored a document laying out some very detailed plans for the future.  The general idea at least for now is that Friends Across the Ages will no longer have an executive director or directors (the roles that Steve and Allison have been filling for many years now).  The Board of Directors, headed by the executive committee of officers, will be the central leadership for the organization.  Various volunteers (on the board and otherwise) will be stepping up to fill many of the functions that Steve and Allison used to perform to keep the organization as a whole going.  Others will be stepping up to take more of a role in coordinating individual volunteer groups at different nursing homes.  And we may be hiring someone for about 10 hours a week to help with some other central administrative tasks.  The long and the short of it is that there will be MANY opportunities for various people to lend their time and talent, and we hope that many of you will consider the ways that you might like to be involved.


As for Steve and Allison, we will still very much be a part of all this!  This organization and all the people in it are so vitally important to us and we can’t imagine our lives without Friends Across the Ages.  We plan to stay active on the board, and also will continue to coordinate a group at Parklands, the nursing home where we got started and have been volunteering all these years.  Of course we will continue to visit all of our friends who live at various nursing homes around town.  And we will probably continue to contribute to the organization in many other ways as well.  But the leadership of Friends Across the Ages, now more than ever, will be a team effort, something we think will make the organization much stronger and better for the long term.


So, in this season of change, we ask you to be understanding as we continue to discern a new way of doing things. We also ask you to strongly consider the ways that you might be able to help,  perhaps through writing a newsletter article, mentoring a new volunteer, talking to a local group about the need to remember the special people in nursing homes, or whatever other ways you might think of to help this cause.  And we will be posting more information about specific roles we are hoping to fill over the next few months. Together, we hope to build ever stronger bridges across generations with ageless friendship.




This fall, as in the past, we have different groups of volunteers that will be meeting on a weekly basis, all of which will involve at least some component of one-to-one visitation of residents.  One-to-one volunteers are assigned to a nursing home resident in need of visitation.  The initial commitment for one-to-one volunteers is 12 weekly visits of one hour each.  Most people spend the first few weeks meeting several different residents, but eventually settle in with one or two residents to be their "Friend Across the Ages" that they visit each week.  One-to-one volunteers visit at set times each week, so that they can meet other one-to-one volunteers, and have the assistance of one of our volunteer coordinators.  


We have three different groups that will be meeting this semester.  These groups will be somewhat more independently run than in the past, and therefore will each have a slightly different flavor and focus, but they share the same general mission and principles.  Here are brief descriptions of each group:


Mondays, 7-8:30pm, University Place: Volunteer Sharing and One-to-One Visits.  Coordinator: Jean Lansford.  This group will keep the same model FATA has been using in recent years, in which volunteers meet for about 15 minutes at the beginning for community building and sharing before fanning out to visit their various individual residents.


Tuesdays, 10:30am-12noon, Palm Garden: One-to-One Visits and “Coffee Club”.  Coordinator: Dianne Walsh.  This group begins each week with individual visits with residents. Then volunteers and some residents meet for the last half hour or so for coffee, sweets, and sharing.


Thursdays, 3:30pm, Parklands: “Storyteller Society” and One-to-One Visits.   Coordinators: Steve and Allison Blay. This group will start with about a half an hour session of a “Storyteller Society” which will involve group sharing and reminiscing.  This will be followed by one-to-one visits with residents. 


If you are interested in joining one of these groups or would like more information, please e-mail or call (352) 381-1117 and we can put you in touch with the appropriate coordinator.





 In addition to the weekly volunteer opportunities described above (which do require some ongoing commitment), we will continue to have a few other group events and other activities each month which require no ongoing commitment.  See below for details, and let us know if you are interested in attending any of these events.


Monday, September 8th, 3:30 – 4:30PM – Blackjack with Steve – A monthly event at Parklands Nursing and Rehab – By popular demand, Steve comes the second Monday of each month to deal blackjack for the residents (who play for “bingo bucks”).  He can always use some extra dealers, so let us know if you’d like to come join the fun!


Thursday, September 11th, 1PM – 3:30PM -- United Way “Day of Action” –  The United Way is organizing a “Day of Action” event which will rally hundreds of volunteers who desire to make a difference in the lives of people in our community.  These volunteers will be giving their day to participate in a wide range of community projects.  This is our 4th year participating in this event, and the volunteers (who come from Shands) will be teaming up with Friends volunteers to organize an outing to Guthrie’s Fried Chicken and a Bingo game.  Email us for more information!


Thursday, September 11th, 3:30-4PM—Memorial Service at Parklands—We have lost several friends at Parklands Nursing and Rehab in the past few months, most especially James Chandler, Catherine Mabry, and Maggie Middleton.  We will be holding an informal memorial service for them in the dining room at Parklands.  This service will include songs, prayers, and sharing special memories.  All volunteers, residents, staff, family members and friends who would like to attend are most welcome to come help us honor these special people.


Friday, September 12th, 2:30-3:30PM—Line Dancing with Agnes and Gene—Those of you who know longtime Friends Across the Ages volunteer Agnes Bierbaum may not have known that she and her husband Gene teach line dancing all around the country!  They will be showing their stuff and sharing their skills with the staff and residents at Parklands Nursing and Rehab this month—come and learn with them!


Sunday, September 14th, 3:30-4PM—Memorial Service at GHCC—In addition to the friends mentioned above at Parklands, we have also lost some friends recently at Gainesville Health Care Center, most especially Warren Bowshot and Hildegard Drake.  We will be holding an informal memorial service for them in the day room on the fourth floor at GHCC.  This service will include songs, prayers, and sharing special memories—including excerpts from an interview that a “friend across the ages” of Mr. Bowshot’s did with him awhile back.  All volunteers, residents, staff, family members and friends who would like to attend are most welcome to come help us honor these special people.


Thursday, September 25th, 2:30-3:30PM -- Birthday celebration -- Help us wish a happy birthday to all residents of Parklands Nursing and Rehab with birthdays in September. Meet us in the dining room where we will have singing and cake. Volunteers are needed to help gather the residents together, serve the cake, sing, clean up, etc.  Do you play an instrument or have some other talent?  We are always looking for new entertainment for the party – let us know!




Remember, be sure to check above to find out the nursing home at which an event will be held.  Directions to all the nursing homes can be found at:

All events are open to everyone (children are welcome at most events, please inquire). If you've never been to a nursing home before, feel free to reply to this email and let us know what events you'll be attending, so we will be looking for you. You can also call us at 381-1117. 


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