A time for traditions and celebrations

Denise Vroman places an ornament of her loved one on the Celebration of Life tree during the 2016 service.

By Sarah Griggs, executive director

Arkansas City Presbyterian Manor always has a busy schedule during the holiday season for both residents and staff. Activities range from honoring family traditions such as dinners and decorating to visiting entertainers like the cantata and children’s group. The activities vary each year with the groups that come; however, there are events that the community enjoys each year.  Each event is special in its own way.

The Celebration of Life service is a time that we set aside to celebrate and remember the lives of those we lost in the past year. We invite the families and friends of those who have died to join us. At the celebration, we place a symbol of remembrance on the tree in our Chapel, which remains lit throughout the holiday season.

The Holiday Dinner is a huge event during the season. The dining services team prepares an extraordinary meal for our residents and their guests. Residents have the opportunity to dine with friends and family on this special occasion. The community serves approximately 350 individuals that night.

The annual Christmas Tea is an opportunity for residents to attend a celebration honoring the staff. Heavy appetizers have been prepared by each department and shared with staff and residents. This event recognizes staff accomplishments including education, service anniversary milestones, and any honors from the corporate team. Staff also receive Christmas gifts from the leadership team and residents.

The residents’ Christmas parties are a fun time. The staff are creative each year with the parties. Santa stops in and brings gifts for our residents. Each year, a Giving Tree has been established for residents in health care and memory care. The Giving Tree is our opportunity to help make Christmas extra special for these residents. Staff and visitors can select names from the tree and provide gifts of around $10 in value which are given out during the parties.

As we enter this year’s holiday season, we asked our own dedicated staff members to tell us about their favorite celebrations and traditions here at Presbyterian Manor. Here are their heartfelt responses.

Dorothy Hladik, health care; employee for 25 years:

“Christmas Tea, because all the residents and staff from all departments and shifts are celebrating together. Also: Celebration of Life – it feels like a time to pay tribute to our beloved residents who have moved on.”

Casey Zavala, memory care; employee for four years:

“Christmas Tea. I love all the staff and residents enjoying the snacks and all the awards. Also love the Christmas trees on all the different floors.”

Pam Brown, health care; employee for 31 years:

“Founders Day. It was interesting to know how the manor got started and how and what Founders Day stands for. And I like to brag about the manor on that day (other days too). It’s fun to celebrate with all the employees and residents about this day. Christmas Tea is fun. Residents get to join in with all of the employees to party. It was fun when I had my 30-year [anniversary] and residents were there. And they brought cow bells to ring for me. That was a very special holiday I will always remember. It meant a lot to me to have residents there to share my 30-year anniversary. Also the Emerald Award [celebration] was cool. I always think it is neat when corporate comes. [They] shared the award and served a good meal to us.

“All manor holidays are fun. Some seem more special, like Christmas Tea and my 30 years. I will always cherish that day. It will always be special to me.”

Amy Powers, health care CNA and medication aide; employee for two years:

“My favorite holiday is the Christmas dinner for the residents. I love being a part of getting them all dressed up and seeing all of their families.”

Joann Goff, housekeeper in assisted living and memory care; employee for 35 years.

“Christmas, because I love the joy it brings to all the residents and their families. I love seeing the families come in.”

Sarah Griggs, executive director and former human resources director; employee for 17 years:

“Celebration of Life – this event kicks off our holiday season and it is such a special celebration. We invite the families and friends of our loved ones we have lost in the past year. It is a time that we pause in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and remember those who will be missing from our family traditions and events. We love to see and touch base with our precious families.”