BRISTOL â€“ Many would say you never fully appreciate what you have until you donâ€™t have it anymore and Countryside Manor of Bristol is no different.
The nursing facility welcomed back volunteers Tuesday afternoon with an appreciation luncheon and communal fellowship.
â€śI want to welcome all of you back,â€ť said Facility Administrator Joel Carmichael. â€śItâ€™s been a very long time and weâ€™re finally together again. Iâ€™ve always known that volunteers are very important. But you donâ€™t realize how important they are until you donâ€™t have the volunteers. I canâ€™t count the number of days when the residents would ask when the volunteers were coming back. You guys have been missed and are loved.â€ť
Volunteers engage in a variety of activities with the residents of Countryside Manor. Carmichael said over 20 volunteers had given of themselves to the service of the residents and roughly 90 residents inhabit Countryside Manor. Some bring in dogs, some write cards, others make blankets and some even visit with residents with realistic doll babies as a form of therapy, particularly with residents with dementia.
â€śItâ€™s an absolute pleasure,â€ť said volunteer Jaime Beebe. â€śI love Countryside, the staff and residents and everything about it and itâ€™s great to be back. Even if you canâ€™t see the smiles on the face (of residents), you can see it in the eyes.â€ť
Beebe visits with the residents with therapeutic baby dolls. She said, being a doll lover, she had originally bought one for herself.
â€śThe more Iâ€™ve researched them I read how they were therapeutic for many different reasons,â€ť said Beebe,â€ť but one specifically was for Alzheimerâ€™s and dementia (patients).â€ť
Beebe said she had approached a nursing home with one of the dolls and was uncertain of how she would be received at first but found she was warmly welcomed by staff and residents. She said she had interacted with a woman who typically didnâ€™t speak but after having interacted with the dolls she spoke that day.
â€śIt was then I knew it needed to be something bigger,â€ť said Beebe. She said she visits several nursing facilities with similar dolls.
In 2005, Charlene Berubeâ€™s father became a resident of Countryside Manor.
â€śAs he became more and more incapable, it was dementia of some sort, I used to run around with him and on Valentineâ€™s Day we went around delivering cards,â€ť said Berube. â€śYou know, everybody needs a little love. The year before he passed I started bringing my confirmation kids here and they write Christmas cards. I can describe it to them, but the kids donâ€™t get it until they come to see how thrilled people are (with the cards).â€ť
Berube also noted she often makes lap afghan blankets for residents that are long enough to keep residents warm but just short enough to not get tangled with wheelchair wheels.
â€śWe try to bring in different groups of volunteers who may do things that we canâ€™t provide,â€ť said Kathy Richard, Countryside Manor director of therapeutic recreation who also oversees volunteer programs. â€śLike maybe there is a religious part or a therapy dog and they can do all kinds of things that we canâ€™tâ€¦ We have some intergenerational programs with children of different ages so our residents can (visit in a family setting).â€ť
Bristol Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu also shared a few words, thanking volunteers for their continued support of Countryside Manor residents especially in a time such as a pandemic.