Look for the Helpers
Mr. Rogers is often quoted as reminding people to look for the helpers during a scary time. While he is believed to be referring to medical personnel and first responders, “helpers” can be as simple as those willing to brighten the day of another.
Our world is facing a pandemic with COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus. As we go to press, our state is in the midst of a social distancing order. No gatherings of more than 50 people by order of the Governor. The President is suggesting no more
than ten. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities full of at-risk populations are closed to visitors. Schools are closed. Gyms and bars are closed and restaurants are take-out only.
It’s getting scary out there. Isolation can be frightening. That’s where these helpers come in. Ordinary people who have stepped up to brighten the day of another in the simplest of ways. From visiting the nursing homes dressed as butterflies to leaving signs of appreciation around town, these are our helpers.
The Broadway Brightens Spirits
By Mary Ditch
The Broadway Elder Living and Rehabilitation in Lockport is getting creative with ways to keep their residents safe, healthy and happy in the wake of new regulations being handed down daily.
“We had all these plans of next week we were going to be doing smaller activities and now we have to keep (the residents) a certain amount of distance from each other,” shares Courtney Carrere, Admissions and Marketing Director. “So we’re thinking of different things. Bingo over the Intercom has been a hit. We have to keep them a certain distance apart, but it’s working. We also have staff up and down the halls with them to help, because sometimes they yell ‘what was that number?’ And they are serious about their bingo games!”
Residents’ loved ones are also getting creative in working around the “no visitor” policy. For the Mayet family, not seeing one another was not an option.
“We have one gentleman who hasn’t missed a day visiting his wife since she joined us,” shares Carrere. “He has come to her window to visit. We are setting up dry erase boards so they can communicate.”
The Broadway also has a program called It’s Never 2 Late. It’s Never 2 Late (iN2L) enhances the quality of residents’ lives by promoting independence through technology, while helping them connect with the world around them. An interactive content library provides memory care, therapy sessions, and wellness activities at their fingertips.
The iN2L also offers technology for the residents to be able to visit with loved ones who don’t live here, or now, loved ones who can’t visit. They can use the huge TV that rolls around to Skype on. They also have access to smaller, personal sized computers that bed-bound residents can hold in their laps.
Bailey Mae, their in-house therapy dog, is also making the rounds, providing lots of puppy kisses and extra snuggles for the residents and the staff.
The Broadway is continuing to uphold their commitment to the residents to always have fun activities for them to be able to do.
“I think that’s really important to keep that vibe for them because you know, it’s never been that we could restrict them from seeing someone unless it was a medical isolation or something like that,” says Carrere. “Even the hospitals are allowing one guest depending on the situation. But the CDC has restricted nursing homes more than anyone because if you look at the other states, most deaths were in nursing homes because it spreads quicker and people who are truly affected are the elderly.”
Learning Never Stops
By Drew Miller
When Governor John Bel Edwards announced all Louisiana k-12 public schools will be closed March 16-April 13 last Friday, concerns were raised by many parents across the state on how their children would continue learning during the postponement.
While school districts are finding and implementing different online resources to continue education, local teacher Kari Boudreaux decided to take matters into her own hands by personally delivering a novel and learning packet to each of her 17 fifth- graders at their homes on Monday.
“I brought them to the kids because I wanted to have that face-to-face with the kids to say, ‘Hey, here’s your work. We’re going to be alright,’” she says. “I wanted them to feel comfortable…It was more personable for me to go bring it to my kids and have that face time with them and their parents.”
Boudreaux, who teaches C.M. Washington Elementary students on Nicholls State University’s campus through the magnet program, dropped off copies of the novel “Number the Stars”, a work of historical fiction by Lois Lowry.
Accompanied with the book was a lesson plan with comprehension, vocabulary and creative activities for each chapter.
Her students were happy to see her and receive their work, Boudreaux said, and the parents were appreciative.
“In college you hear: ‘You have the heart of a teacher.’ I guess I just truly have the heart of a teacher,” she continued. “I knew I had to get this to my kids. They always come first for me.”
The 22-year educator said she is also going to try and put something together for her fourth grade class, depending on how the situation progresses with the COVID-19.
“I think it’s important for them to keep reading because that keeps their minds going and it keeps them abreast of their levels and where they are at in reading,” Boudreaux says. “…Strong readers can do almost all things.
Library “All a Flutter”
By Mary Ditch
Beautiful butterflies waved their delicate wings as they danced and frolicked outside the windows of local senior living facilities.
Team members of the Terrebonne Parish Library System, Lillie Brunet, Kristi Schieffler, Lisa Arceneaux, and Carla Duplantis, were experiencing a lull during their day while closed to inside patrons. They decided to make the best of the situation and bring a little happiness to their elderly patrons.
“We did it as a spur of the moment activity,” shares Lillie. “We miss our patrons who are under quarantine and wanted them to know we were thinking of them.”
The butterflies have visited Heritage Manor, The Oaks, Terrebonne Place, The Homestead and The Suites.
“Residents have cheered and clapped,” shares Lillie. “They are truly happy to see us, and it has been lifting their spirits. We have coordinated each of our visits with the activities director at each home so they have time to get to the windows.”
The butterfly costumes were for Bug Crawl, an annual Library event whose future is uncertain at this point. “God has other plans,” says Lillie, “so we put on the costumes and grabbed a portable speaker, and began our journey as butterflies to spread cheer!”
And it’s not just the elderly patients who are benefiting. “You think you are going out to cheer someone else up,” shares Lillie, “but it’s life changing for yourself. You get double the gift.”
In the Midst of a Crisis, There Are Signs of Joy
By Drew Miller
During the panic and heartbreak that make up the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, one local business has been erecting signs of joy to be seen by those on the front lines of the pandemic and those kept in isolation for their own safety.
Pelican Posts by SignGypsies of Houma has been setting up signs in front of various organizations greatly affected by the coronavirus.
“Heroes Work Here” reads signs in front of Terrebonne General Medical Center and Chabert Medical Center.
“We hope this brings smiles to the faces of the Terrebonne General Medical Center staff who are working so hard to keep our community healthy and safe,” reads a Facebook post by SignGypsies.
“Our community is so grateful for our health care providers and hospital support staff, who work tirelessly to bring healing to the sick. We hope this helps to lift spirits at Chabert this week,” reads another.
The company made sure to know that folks staying in nursing homes knew they were appreciated as well.
“You Are Loved,” is brightly displayed at four local nursing homes — which aren’t allowing visitors across the state.
“Directors from the homes said it put smiles on their faces; they were happy” says Natalie Falgout, President of the Junior Auxiliary (JA) of Houma, who partnered with SignGypsies owner Kelly Phillips to make the surprise possible.
JA also provided sanitized and 36-hour quarantined sudoku books and crossword puzzles for the nursing home residents as well.
“Those were just the small things we were able to do and to try to help cheer them up during this crazy time,” Natalie says. “It was great to let them know a lot of people are thinking of and praying for them.” POV