Above and beyond service

Director of Environmental Services Rick Donley enjoys a visit with resident Francis Oler.

Director of Environmental Services Rick Donley enjoys a visit with resident Francis Oler.

If one wanted to get to know Director of Environment Services Rick Donley, perhaps all they’d need to do is read this recent accolade he received, a BRAVO from Executive Director Maegen Pegues:

“Yesterday, I witnessed Rick take time out of his very busy day to interact with a resident. Rick stopped, got down on one knee to make himself eye level with this resident, and engaged in a sincere conversation. The resident was having some hard times and Rick really took the time to enrich this resident’s day, and I witnessed a smile on her face when he walked away. Thank you Rick! It was a simple reminder of why we’re here!”

This brief description explains why Rick is such an important part of our team and the influence he has on those around him.

“I talk to residents quite a bit, and I encourage my staff to stop and talk to them as well. I ask them to ‘take a knee’ or sit with the residents, to get down on their level and build relationships. We don’t want to be seen as authority positions, but rather as people just here to help,” said Rick.

Before coming to Parsons Presbyterian Manor two and a half years ago, Rick had worked at other senior living communities, and in other industries in a supervisory role. Although his abilities to address facility and maintenance needs are much appreciated and necessary, it’s his people skills that really make a difference.

“That’s what makes the job so satisfying. I could go anywhere and work on things, but having an opportunity to interact with residents on a close personal basis is what really makes this job. I would encourage everybody and all staff at any Presbyterian Manor to take time and truly interact with residents. We get so busy, and residents are people, not just part of our job. And hey, it gives staff a break, too.”

We thank Rick for his above-and-beyond service, and congratulate him on his well-earned BRAVO Award!

The sweet sound of serving others

Left to right: Board members Wayne Mason, Lyle Lomas, Charlotte Ecoff and Dr. Stephen Miller are just a few of volunteers we celebrate during National Volunteer Month.

Left to right: Board members Wayne Mason, Lyle Lomas, Charlotte Ecoff and Dr. Stephen Miller are just a few of volunteers we celebrate during National Volunteer Month.

April is National Volunteer Month, so what better time to honor one of our board members who’s brought her time, treasure and talents to the table?

“This is my fourth year involved as a board member at Parsons Presbyterian Manor,” said Charlotte Ecoff. “My mother, Helen Carter, has lived here for quite some time, so we are very familiar with the community and their needs. My mother made a donation for the new van, and so my husband and I did, too, but we realized the needs extended beyond financial.”

Senior living centers are unique in that they truly are their own little community. Various personalities, needs and cultures come together under one roof, and it’s up to the staff, residents and volunteers like Charlotte to make it feel like home.

“I taught music to grades kindergarten through eighth, and now I teach classes at Labette Community College. After I became a board member, I used my influence and connections to increase music here. I have the students I teach do yearly concerts here, and various groups perform throughout the year. The residents really look forward to it,” said Charlotte. “I play the piano, too, and the residents seem to really enjoy it. The songs bring back memories for them.”

Charlotte comes from a musical family, and her brother and daughter have been known to accompany her.

“My brother comes and performs some. I play the flute, and he does the piano. My daughter has performed here often as well, and with her 4-H group. The residents are an encouraging group of people to perform for. It’s good for the kids, and I know my mother certainly enjoys it. I am always looking for new performers, and sometimes, those musicians live right here! We even had a doctor who was convalescing here who was quite talented,” said Charlotte.

Of all the smiles and laughter Charlotte has helped bring over the years, though, there’s one that stands out as the funniest.

“Even my little dog performs with us! I remember one time my daughter singing “How Much is That Doggy in the Window?” with her 4-H group, and she got him to bark on time with the song. The residents started barking along, too. It was hysterical!”

We know that for all the blessings Charlotte has brought Parsons Presbyterian Manor, she’s received them back, and that’s the beauty of volunteering.

“I always want to bring joy here. Our attitude to our life and aging is very important. It helps our physical and mental health. I stop to kneel down and connect with people, and pray with them. It makes me feel good doing something to help others. And I know this type of environment has helped my mother. The manor has been very good for her. She reached 100 on Oct. 24, 2016, and I really didn’t know if she would make it there. She’s had some illnesses along the way, but she’s doing well now.”

We thank Charlotte, and all of our volunteers, especially our board members, who give so much of themselves to make Parsons Presbyterian Manor a wonderful place to call home. If you or anyone you know is interested in volunteering, contact Sharla Hopper at 620-421-1450 or Shopper@pmma.org.

“I want to encourage the younger generation to get to know these interesting people. They’ve lived long, full lives and have so much to give,” said Charlotte.

Chaplain: Colors of life

Wayne Mason-2By Wayne Mason, Harry Hynes Memorial Hospice chaplain 

The wall of glass is cut into various sizes and shapes of dark hues of black, gray and brown as it sits in the shadows of the building. You travel inside to the chapel, and there you gaze upon a wall of stained glass filled with every color of the rainbow. The mural of glass portrays key symbols of Christian faith with the cross at the very center of it all. It takes your breath away as you contemplate the meaning.

I have seen many sunrises over the years (yes, I am an early riser). I marvel over how quickly the transition from dark with its stars and moon in contrast to the darkened sky moves to first light when shadows disappear and brighter light reveals all the shapes surrounding me. The sky takes on a brilliance of color – reds, pinks, yellows in contrast to the blue sky and puffy clouds.

I wonder what the sunrise looked like on that Resurrection morning when the women who loved Jesus gathered in the dark at Jesus’ tomb. With the first light, they could see that the tomb was no longer sealed, and the stone was set aside. The tomb was open, and the body was gone.

The angels told them Jesus was risen from the dead. I wonder, did the sky suddenly explode with color in celebration of Jesus’ victory over sin and death? Did God and the angels paint the whole sky in a party of colors like no one had ever seen before? The women’s focus was on Jesus, the angels and the empty tomb. My imagination allows all of creation to participate in the promise of God being revealed to the people who loved Jesus.

I wish that I could see the beauty of that Resurrection morning. Perhaps I do, every time I see a new sunrise and take a walk with Jesus into a new day.

Prayer: “Lord, as I see a new sunrise and contemplate the beginning of a day, let me see the beauty of my relationship with You. As I see a beautiful sunset, help me remember the journey of faith You are leading me through. Amen.”

Making a memoir a reality

At 87, she wrote her life story and created a family treasure

By Edmund O. Lawler for Next Avenue


When my mother was a teenager, she got to meet the most famous athlete of the 20th century.

It was 1947. Babe Ruth, by then stricken with throat cancer, granted my mom and her sister a private audience in the beautiful Manhattan apartment he shared with his wife, Claire. The girls, accompanied by their mother, were awestruck as the now-retired Sultan of Swat autographed photos and chatted amiably with them about baseball in a painfully raspy voice. My mom didn’t have the heart to tell the Babe, who would die a year later, that she was a fan of her hometown Chicago White Sox.

My mom was celebrating her recent high school graduation with a train trip from Chicago to New York where she rode the coasters at Coney Island, beheld the Statue of Liberty and dined at the Stork Club. The visit with Babe was a complete surprise — arranged by her businessman father and one of his confidants in New York City.

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Your plain English guide to investment jargon

Definitions of 5 stock market terms you’ll want to know

By Jack Fehr for Next Avenue


Credit: Thinkstock

As the stock market continues its gyrations, now is a good time to buy an investment with a favorable NAV and alpha that keeps on giving while reducing beta.

Got that?

If not, don’t be embarrassed. Investment companies and financial advisers love to load up their materials with this kind of jargon. Too bad they don’t just say something like this (a plain-English translation of the first sentence in this article): “You might want to buy an investment that is likely to grow faster and experience less risk than alternatives.”

Well, some actually do, but many still don’t. If companies aren’t willing to talk to you in a language you understand, it’s up to you to decipher their financial-speak.

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Do you really need that knee surgery?

Experts disagree on whether it’s worth going under the knife

By Linda Melone, CSCS for Next Avenue


Credit: Thinkstock

You felt it on your last walk when you stepped off a curb the wrong way: a sudden pain and feeling as if your knee were about to give out. Swelling and more pain followed, along with worries that you may need knee surgery.

But would it even help?

A recent Danish review of studies published in the British Medical Journal revealed that people in their 50s and older who get arthroscopic surgery for knee pain show no lasting benefits.

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Achieving your dreams after 60

The authors of ‘Senior Wonders’ on the 3 P’s for Triumphant Aging

By Karen L. Pepkin and Wendell C. Taylor for Next Avenue

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Thinkstock

The media abounds with negative views about the impact of aging on physical, cognitive, and financial well-being. In fact, there are entire industries that have emerged to counteract the effects of aging — nutritional supplements, hormone treatments, surgical improvements, lotions, potions, and the like. They all seem to underscore Bette Davis’ famous quote, “Old age is no place for sissies.”

What if there were another point of view? What if aging brought about, not decline but our greatest accomplishments? What if we looked at aging as Dr. Christiane Northrup does? She tells us that “getting older is inevitable, but aging isn’t.”

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Sorry, nobody wants your parents’ stuff

Advice for boomers desperate to unload family heirlooms

By Richard Eisenberg for Next Avenue

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

After my father died at 94 in September, leaving my sister and me to empty his one-bedroom, independent living New Jersey apartment, we learned the hard truth that others in their 50s and 60s need to know: Nobody wants the prized possessions of your parents — not even you or your kids.

Admittedly, that’s an exaggeration. But it’s not far off, due to changing tastes and homes. I’ll explain why, and what you can do as a result, shortly.

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Don’t let fear stop you from end-of-life planning

It’s natural to procrastinate, but make this a priority for your loved ones

By Debbie Reslock for Next Avenue

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

When I was in my early 20s, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. It felt like a one-two punch, since my dad had died unexpectedly a few years earlier. Although Mom tried chemotherapy, the results seemed to suggest that this was going to end badly, which it did — less than six months later.

During that time, her life became a mere shadow of what it once was. And yet no one, including her doctors, myself or my mom, ever talked about what was happening.

Only in the last few days did her doctor suggest to me, not her, that we were reaching the end of this painful road. And then he asked if I thought she’d be more comfortable at home or in the hospital. I remember how angry I was, unprepared to make this decision and wanting to scream, “Why are you asking me?” But of course when I got older, I realized the real question was why hadn’t any of us asked her?

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8 ways to give your investments a spring cleaning

Tax time is an ideal time to declutter your portfolio

By Kerry Hannon for Next Avenue


Credit: Getty Images

Where I live in Washington, D.C., the pink magnolia trees are blooming, and the daffodils are intensely yellow and screaming springtime — just in time for the first day of spring, Sunday March 20.

It’s time to get out in the backyard to tackle garden cleanup… right after I finish my taxes this weekend. Which brings me to a more prosaic chore: Spring-cleaning is also time to clear out the clutter in my financial life, particularly my investments. And I think you should, too. (I’ll tell you how shortly.)

When I’m doing spring-cleaning for my portfolio, I check to see if I need to consolidate and sell extraneous and underperforming funds and stocks. I also do a goals checkup and tune-up to rebalance my investments, so I have the right asset allocation of stocks to bonds to provide the oomph needed to last a potentially long life.

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