Cherish Your Friends

This past spring as part of my Lenten discipline I took on something instead of giving up something. I had been thinking a lot about past friendships from college and graduate school and I realized I missed those people in my life. I decided I would take time to reach out and hopefully connect with six friends with whom I had lost contact. I was interested then to read of a study that encourages people to make those phone calls or send a text or email. According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, people often underestimate how much their friends and old acquaintances appreciate hearing from them.

“If there’s been someone that you’ve been hesitating to reach out to, that you’ve lost touch with perhaps, you should go ahead and reach out, and they’re likely to appreciate it much more than you think,” said Peggy Liu, the study’s lead author. The researchers conducted a series of 13 experiments with more than 5,900 participants to see if people could accurately estimate how much their friends value them reaching out and what forms of communication make the biggest impact. In these experiments, reaching out was defined as a phone call, text, email, note or small gift. The experiments found that initiators significantly underestimated the recipient’s reaction to the check-in.

“It’s often less about these kinds of grand overtures that we can make in our relationships and more about the small moments of letting a friend know that we’re thinking of them,” said Miriam Kirmayer, a clinical psychologist and friendship expert who was not involved in the study. A recipient appreciated the communication more when it was surprising, such as when it was from someone the recipient did not regularly contact or when the participant and recipient did not consider themselves to be close friends, the study found. “When you feel that sense of positive surprise,” Liu said, “it really further boosts the appreciation that you feel.”

Relationships, including friendships, can be one of the strongest predictors of how healthy we are and how long we live, and they can boost our overall well-being. During the pandemic we certainly found that when we are disconnected and isolated from our friends and loved ones we suffer from increased anxiety and depression. We know that friendships require nourishment and after leaving college and graduate school I had starved the relationships which had meant so much to me. Most of the six friends I reached out to live in other states and one lives out of the country. I was able to see the friends that live here in person and the others I spoke to on the phone. With each one it was fun to hear their voice and catch up on where they are at in life. Just as the study found, each person I talked to appreciated the fact that I had reached out to renew our friendship. My intention now is to feed those friendships and keep them alive. Who are the friends that you might reach out to?

Holidays and Empty Chairs

‘Tis the season to surround ourselves with friends and family and count our blessings. It is a time to take inventory and acknowledge all that is good and sweet and right. It is about celebrating presence but sometimes what this season is marked by more than anything else—is absence. Pastor John Pavlovitz writes:

“Surrounded by noise and activity and life, your eyes and your heart can’t help but drift to that quiet space that now remains unoccupied: the cruel vacancy of the empty chair. The empty chair is different for everyone, though it is equally intrusive. For some it is a place of a vigil; the persistent hope of a prodigal returning, of a severed tie to soon be repaired, of a long overdue reunion to come. It is a place of painful but patient waiting for what is unlikely, yet still possible. For some the chair is a memorial; the stark reminder of what was and no longer is, of that which never will be again. It is a household headstone where we eulogize and grieve and remember; a face we squint to see, a hand we stretch to hold, a voice we strain to hear. This may be the first time the chair has been empty for you, or you may have grown quite accustomed to the subtraction. Either way it hurts.”

Pastor John Pavlovitz

I know that hurt, as do you. My father died twenty-four years ago on November 25th so when my family gathers around the Thanksgiving table every year, we are aware of the empty chair which he filled. We feel the absence of his presence. We remember how he loved Christmastime! The holidays are supposed to be filled with celebration, joy and peace but often they have a way of magnifying loss; reminding us of our incompleteness, our lack, our mourning. The lessons that the empty chair teaches us are about living in the moment and being thankful for what we have and about growing through our struggles. Sometimes we acquire that wisdom and find that healing in our own way and in our own time and sometimes we don’t. Life is unpredictable and messy that way. In some way during the holidays, we all sit together gathered around this same incomplete table and one thing we can offer one another is our compassionate presence in the face of the terrible absence. Pavlovitz suggests that “in this season each of us learns to have fellowship with sadness, to celebrate accompanied by sorrow. This is the paradox of loving and being wounded simultaneously.” May we each make peace with the holidays and the empty chairs. And remember, if you need someone to sit with you in your sadness, you need not be alone – just call one of us (Chaplain Peggy, x16109 or Chaplain Andrew, x18481) and we’ll be there.

Mercy’s Beam I See

Advent has always been my favorite season in the Church calendar. Singing in all of those Advent Carol Services as a child whilst holding a flickering candle clearly made an favorable impression… despite the piercing cold!

The theologian Walter Bruggemann reminds us that while Advent is a time for getting ready, “getting ready time is not mainly about busy activity, entertaining and fatigue.” He goes on to explain his thought on how to be prepared in a spiritual sense for the coming celebrations of Christmas is about also being “abrasive, in that our preparation is also linked with asking, thinking, pondering and redeciding”. Abrasive is at first glance a curious choice of words, but by “abrasive” he means that the season of Advent is best approached by making a conscious and perhaps even uncomfortable decision to rebalance and reorient our lives, refocusing on how we can live our lives fully in tune with God. When experienced with an open heart and mind, the season of Advent aims to provide insight and perspectives for us to welcome God’s light into our lives in the person of Jesus. Over these past couple of years, carving out that space for pondering upon how God’s light shines into the darkness and difficult parts of our lives becomes even more vital. And so instead of being unbalanced in a perpetual state of getting ready so as not being really ready for anything – I hope you may join with me in being mindful of how we use or time between now and Christmas. To find the right balance of preparation and contemplation as we ponder, watch and wait. Perhaps I’ll start by revisiting the words of Charles Wesley’s Advent hymn ‘Christ whose glory fills the skies’; “Dark and cheerless is the morn unaccompanied by thee; Joyless is the day’s return, till thy mercy’s beams I see, till they inward light impart, glad my eyes, and warm my heart.” May we all see beams of mercy and light this Advent season.

State of the Campus – November 14

I want to thank all of you – residents, families and staff – for your dedication and steadfast support throughout the past twenty months. We have all witnessed the massive impact that COVID has had on all of us – from social distancing, to masks, to vaccines to families being separated and reunited. Our thoughts and prayers go out daily to everyone who has been impacted by this virus, directly or indirectly.

Much has happened this year regarding COVID-19 vaccines, both nationally and locally. Just think, a year ago we didn’t even have a vaccine and now more than 7.8 billion doses globally have been administered. The science and data clearly point to the vaccine’s critical role in protecting ourselves and each other from severe illness and hospitalization. The safety of our residents, families and staff members is and always will be our number one priority. It is for this reason that we announced our vaccine requirement for staff, in addition to the fact that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) required staff in our organization be vaccinated or apply for an exemption. Without this requirement, we would lose our ability to accept Medicare payments.

While we are disappointed to lose any of our dedicated staff due to this issue, we know that vaccine choice is a personal decision. We hear in the media so much about vaccine hesitancy and the passionate opposition to a vaccine requirement. What we don’t hear about is the voice of all the people who are the “silent majority” who think that the vaccines are important – to protect themselves and those around them. What is especially meaningful to me are those who choose to live our mission and our values to keep each other safe by getting vaccinated if they are able. I have received stacks of emails and letters from staff, families and residents who applaud the vaccine requirement, who feel safer because of it and who feel like they can move forward without the fear of COVID.

I want to lift up our Beatitudes Strong family, and especially the staff members who have been with us through this pandemic. I am very touched and proud of how our staff stepped up even more than usual to engage in acts of generosity and support. They are heroes in every way. They exemplify an amazing power of positivity and kindness, especially throughout the past months. They came to work every day while their children or loved ones were learning or working from home. They put their career dreams on hold to pivot for our residents – to deliver meals and Roadrunners door-to-door, to screen each other and visitors for COVID symptoms, to shop for groceries and to help with infection control. They worked long hours to figure out Zoom and the community channel and to figure out how to video so that our residents wouldn’t feel disconnected. More than a few staff lost loved ones or had family members who were ill. Most staff couldn’t even visit their families and have in-person support. Yet, they came to work every day (and still do!) to serve our residents cheerfully. Our staff supported each other, too, in so many ways, too – to lend a hand at work, to crack a joke, to bake cookies or bring lunch to a colleague, to help each other when we were exhausted. I am so proud of our team – they are the shining example of Beatitudes Strong! Please, when you walk past them on the sidewalk or meet with them or see them in the Bistro, give them a hearty thank you for all that they have done – and all that they will do.

Beatitudes Campus staff are now 90.1% vaccinated with at least one dose of the vaccine. We approved religious or medical exemptions for 4.9% of the staff. We have not heard of the intention to be vaccinated for 5% of the staff. Eight staff members chose to leave their jobs. I am so proud of our staff.

This week, we unfortunately have had three staff members test positive for COVID-19 – one support staff in Assisted Living, one support staff from Facilities and one direct care worker in the Health Care Center. All were vaccinated and all of them were exposed outside of campus and subsequently got the virus. All are doing well.

I want to wish all of our veterans a Happy Veterans Day. I salute the men and women who have fought for our country and for our democracy and thank them for their service. Our veterans are the epitome of dedication, selflessness and resilience. Thank you. Stay strong!

Sincerely,
Michelle Just, President and CEO

Japanese Kintsugi

Awhile back I broke a favorite vase of mine and I tried as best I could to put it back together again. It brought to mind the nursery rhyme about Humpty Dumpty after his fall. I kept the vase although it didn’t look the same and I couldn’t use it for it’s original purpose. Perhaps it looked ok from afar but upon closer inspection you can see where it was broken and repaired. I thought of my vase when I learned about the Japanese artform called Kintsugi. It is a beautiful form of ceramics which has much to teach us. When a vase or bowl or cup is broken, artists gather up the broken pieces and glue them back together. It is how they put them back together that is steeped in wisdom and beauty. They mix gold dust with the glue and instead of trying to hide the cracks they own them, honor the, even accentuate them by making them golden. They celebrate the cracks as part of their story. Kintsugi ceramics are stunningly beautiful and it is believed that once repaired in this ancient method, Kintsugi pieces are more beautiful, and more loved than before they were broken.

According to art historians, kintsugi came about accidentally. When the 15th-century shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa broke his favorite tea bowl, he sent it to China for repairs and was disappointed that it came back stapled together. The metal pins were unsightly, so local craftsmen came up with a solution — they filled the crack with a golden lacquer, making the bowl more unique and valuable. This repair elevated the fallen bowl back to its place as shogun’s favorite and prompted a whole new art form. Recently, a resident gave me a book called Life is Messy by Matthew Kelly who asks the question, “Can something that has been broken be put back together in a way that makes it more beautiful than ever before?” Kelly laments how quickly and easily our society throws broken things away because we cling to the false notion that we have to try to keep everyone and everything from being broken. He says, “I marvel how God doesn’t use straight lines or right-angles in nature. We invented right-angles and straight lines to prop up our insecure humanity. The perfection of nature is marked by crooked lines, brokenness, imperfect colors, and things that seem out of place. The perfection of creation is achieved through its imperfection. And so it is with human beings. Your imperfections are part of what make you perfectly yourself. If we put on the mind of God, we discover one of the most beautiful truths this life has to offer: Something that has been devastatingly broken can be put back together in a way that makes it more beautiful than ever before. It is true for things, but it is even more true for people, and it is true for you. This is the source and the summit of hope.”

Scripture agrees that like the kintsugi crafters who repaired the shogun’s bowl with gold long ago, imperfections are gifts to be worked with, not shames to be hidden. 2 Corinthians 4:7 says, “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” Owning the fact that we are all clay jars allows us to be free and human in the way God intended. Each of us is subject to chipping and cracking and likely to contain imperfections but it is those cracks and imperfections that give us character and beauty.

We Will Do All We Can to Protect Our Beatitudes Family

Beatitudes Campus mission commits all of us to a model of service for our residents – to inspire purpose and vibrancy in all that we do. Our mission compels us to do all we can so that we do no harm to the ones we love and serve. We are so grateful to our Beatitudes Strong staff, particularly in the last 19 months, who have lived out our mission and worked hard to protect our Beatitudes family and ensure the safest environment possible.

Below is a letter I sent to every staff member, informing them of the policy.

I want to thank all of you for your steadfast support and flexibility throughout the past 19 months of this pandemic. I hope that you and your families are doing well despite the many challenges we have collectively faced and continue to experience because of the pandemic.

Over the past month, much has happened both nationally and locally within life plan communities, such as Beatitudes Campus, regarding COVID-19 vaccines and requiring staff to become vaccinated. As we have always said, we will follow the science, and the science overwhelmingly points to the vaccine’s critical role in protecting our residents, our community and each other from this deadly disease.

We carefully deliberated and reviewed recommendations from scientists and the medical community and the requirements from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and we have made the decision to require all Beatitudes staff and contractors to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by no later than November 15, 2021. Concomitant with this decision, on August 18, 2021, the White House announced an initiative to increase vaccination rates in America that included mandatory vaccinations for long-term care workers in nursing homes. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) followed quickly with an announcement of forthcoming regulation mandating vaccinations for all staff working in nursing homes. On September 9, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order that included the provision that 17 million health care workers at all facilities, hospitals, home health providers, dialysis centers and other health service providers that receive funds from Medicare and Medicaid be fully vaccinated.

This decision was not an easy one to make. We know that this requirement will affect a portion of our staff. But as COVID-19 variants emerge and proliferate, it is critical that we protect everyone who lives and works at Beatitudes Campus. Our campus mission commits us to a model of service for our residents that promotes soundness of mind, spirit and body. We chose to work in the field of aging so that we could serve some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, and we owe it to them to take every measure possible to ensure the safest environment possible. Our residents and staff expect to be safe at Beatitudes Campus and we need to do everything we can to protect our Beatitudes family. We have a unique and special responsibility to keep the campus as safe as possible to protect our residents and staff, especially as the risk environment rises, as it has during this pandemic.

We understand that this may be a heavy and emotional issue for some staff. There will be a very limited allowance for exemptions for our staff from being vaccinated. Those exemptions will be for legitimate, fully documented medical reasons as well as fully documented long-held religious beliefs. We also understand that some Beatitudes staff will choose not to be vaccinated who do not qualify for one of the rare exemptions. We urge those employees to reconsider based on facts and science. We are all in this together. Together we serve our residents and together we have a collective responsibility to keep them as safe as possible. We encourage you to talk to your manager or director, or, alternatively, we will have our spiritual life team of Rev. Peggy Roberts and Rev. Andrew Moore as well as our nurse educator, Karen Mitchell, who can talk with you confidentially.

Beatitudes Campus policy for a vaccine requirement has been distributed, as well as the forms should you seek an exemption.

Please take a moment to reflect on why you chose to work at Beatitudes Campus and with the seniors who live here. The campus would not have a 56-year history of success without the contributions of a dedicated staff. Throughout this pandemic you have demonstrated your dedication and bravery in the face of unprecedented and challenging circumstances. The residents you love to serve, the residents you help to live their best, most successful and engaged life, are enriched by the Beatitudes team. They deserve to live in the safest community possible. We must do everything possible to deliver a safe environment for them.

We are Beatitudes Strong! Thank you.

Sincerely,
Michelle Just, President and CEO

Missing Tools from Woodshop

Recently, we have noted that some hand tools are missing from the Resident Woodshop. The tools that are in the woodshop have been either purchased by the Campus or donated by residents and are there for all residents to use and enjoy. If you borrow something to use for a project at home, PLEASE return it as soon as possible after you are done so that others might use them.

Borrowing a tool is not a problem as long as it is returned promptly. We do not have a monitor in the woodshop and we depend on everyone treating this community property with respect. Currently, there are several Irwin and/or Craftsman Handi-Clamps, a pair of large Chanel-Lock pliers, several screw drivers and an 18” steel SAE and Metric centering ruler missing.

If you have borrowed any of these items or if you have any other tools from the woodshop, please return them as soon as possible. We will be instituting a Tool Sign-Out Log Sheet for any tools removed. It will be located on the entry door, so, simply let us know when you take something out and when you return it. It will not take much effort and, that way, we will be able to keep track of everything.

In addition, we will start a Woodshop Use Log to track just how much and how long the shop is being used by our residents. Please make sure that you sign in and out of the shop. This sheet will also be located on the entry door.
Thanks very much for your consideration.

The Cookie Thief

A friend of mine was waiting at an airport one night with several long hours before her flight. She hunted for a book in the airport shops, bought a bag of cookies and eventually found a place to sit and wait for her flight.

She began reading and was soon engrossed in her book, but happened to see that the man sitting beside her, as bold as could be grabbing a cookie from the bag resting between their two seats. Attempting to avoid making a scene she decided to ignore him.

So, she munched on a couple of the cookies and each time she looked up from her book the gutsy cookie thief was again diminishing her stock! She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by, thinking to herself “If I wasn’t so nice, I would blacken his eye.”

With each cookie she took he took one too, until there was only one left. She wondered what he would do. With a smile on his face, and a nervous laugh, he took the last cookie and broke it in half.

He offered her half, as he ate the other, she snatched it from him and thought “oooh, brother! This guy has some nerve! He’s so rude- he didn’t even show any gratitude!!”

She could not remember being so annoyed, and sighed with relief when her flight was called. She thrust her book into her purse and headed to the gate, refusing to look back at the thieving cookie bandit.

She boarded the plane, and sank in her seat, and looked into her purse for her book which was almost completed. As she reached in her purse, she gasped with surprise- there in front of her eyes was an unopened bag of cookies.

She said to herself- “If mine are in here, then the others must have been his.” Too late to apologize, she realized that she was the rude one, the ungrateful one, the thief.

Perspective and hindsight are precious commodities. We can all become so wrapped up in our lives that we forget that there are two sides to every story, and as Aesop’s fable says, ‘every truth has two sides; it is as well to look at both before we commit ourselves to either’. Perhaps today we might all take a moment to consider the perspectives of others on our own actions. Perhaps we ought to try looking at ourselves and our actions from someone else’s perspective? Perhaps we owe someone an apology? Perhaps we will be brave enough to do something about it.

Resident Services New Email!

Our Resident Services team has created a group email to better meet your needs! This is intended to make it easier for residents to get ahold of a team member regarding any personal situations, questions and/or concerns. The email will be listed below, we look forward to further assisting you!
Resident Services Team
[email protected]

A Prayer for the Remembrance of 9/11

O God, our hope and refuge,
in our distress we come quickly to you.
Shock and horror of that tragic day have subsided,
replaced now with an emptiness,
a longing for an innocence lost.

We come remembering those who lost their lives
in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania.

We are mindful of the sacrifice of public servants
who demonstrated the greatest love of all
by laying down their lives for friends.
We commit their souls to your eternal care
and celebrate their gifts to a fallen humanity.

We come remembering
and we come in hope,
not in ourselves, but in you.

As foundations we once thought secure have been shaken,
we are reminded of the illusion of security.

In commemorating this tragedy,
we give you thanks for your presence
in our time of need
and we seek to worship you in Spirit and in truth,
our guide and our guardian. Amen.

– Written by The Rev. Jeremy Pridgeon, UMC

Come Learn About Touchtown

It’s an old slogan, and a new product: TOUCHTOWN. Paper will not be going away but as a campus we continually work towards different ways to communicate with all of you. We feel touchtown is a great way to work towards reducing paper usage and a great way to keep everyone engaged and in the know! Resident touchtown ambassadors have been hard at work crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s in regards to the toucthtown app and developing a training class on the best way to utilize touchtown.

Ambassadors will be at the “touchtown help desk” every day from 11:00a-1:00p in the Bistro helping others download the app on your phone in preparation for trainings. Ambassadors will also be holding in person touchtown trainings on 9.10, 9.11, 9.12, and 9.13, you will need to sign up to attend those trainings but…..you can also do that at the “touchtown help desk”! Stop by during the help desk hours and sign up for a class, we hope all can come and visit!

Celebrating the Beatitudes Team on Labor Day

On Monday, we will celebrate Labor Day, a day that pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. Labor Day was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894. Labor Day weekend also symbolizes the end of summer and is often a time of celebration.

On this Labor Day, I want to celebrate each of the Beatitudes team members—not just for the individual and unique strengths they bring for the collective good of Beatitudes Campus, but for their dedication to the campus mission. They are the backbone of the campus. If we achieve anything, it’s because of the passion and dedication shared by our staff to a common cause – to inspire purpose and vibrancy among our residents in whatever they do.

I know that our staff have made many sacrifices to keep our Beatitudes community engaging and safe, particularly during the past 18 months. I am incredibly grateful for each member of the Beatitudes Strong team. Their amazing talent and limitless energy continue to be focused on the shared goals of the campus. We would not be the community we are without their commitment and effort.

On this Labor Day weekend, I ask that you take a moment to reflect on the countless contributions of our Beatitudes team members. They ensure our community is an engaging place to live. When you are out taking a walk, eating a meal, or just sitting enjoying the view, please take a moment to thank the staff for their hard work and dedication. Tell them they have made a difference. I guarantee you will make their day.

Have a good and safe Labor Day weekend.

The Jewish Holidays in September

September 2021 is an interesting month regarding the Jewish Calendar. The Jewish calendar year is 5782 and theoretically dates from Adam and Eve, if you go through the bible with all the years listed for the generations. There are four major Jewish holidays that occur this month. Three of them are described in Leviticus chapter 23. The first is Rosh Hashanah, literally the Head of the Year, as the Hebrew word Rosh is “head” and Hashanah is “the year.” Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown September 6th and is celebrated on the seventh and eight for Orthodox Jews and the seventh for Jews who live in Israel and Reform Jews. It is interesting that Rosh Hashanah begins on the first day of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Hebrew Calendar and is the beginning of the ten Days of Awe which end with Yom Kippur.

The Beatitudes High Holiday Jewish service, celebrating Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, will be conducted in the Life Center Boardroom on Friday, September 10th at 1 pm. The service will be led by Phil and Hannah Adelman.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, begins at sundown on the 15th of September. Leviticus does not use the name Rosh Hashanah and only indicates that is a day of the blowing of the horn. The name for this day was first used in the Mishnah which is a Jewish text written in the first 200 years of the common era. The Mishnah describes the use of the ram’s horn as it was a ram who was sacrificed in place of Isaac by Abraham. Hence, the Shofar or rams’ horn is blown in services on Rosh Hashanah. Yom Kippur is the end of the days of awe and is normally spent in the synagogue praying and fasting. The Yom Kippur fast begins prior to sundown on the fifteenth and ends, traditionally, after sundown on the sixteenth. During this 24-hour day the Jewish fast consists of complete abstinence of food and drink.

Sukkot, the feast of tabernacles, begins on the evening of the 20th of September (14th of Tishrei) and is a seven or eight-day holiday. It commemorates the harvest and traditionally we build a wooden structure, which is covered in palm fronds or other branches from trees. Many Jews eat their holiday meals in the sukkah. Simchat Torah, rejoicing with the Torah, begins at sundown September 28th. It is celebrating with the Torah and ends the annual cycle of reading the Torah in the Synagogue. On this holiday the final chapter of Deuteronomy is read, and the beginning of Genesis is read. The Torah, which is a scroll containing the 5 books of Moses is rewound from the end to the beginning and every synagogue and temple in the world begins the annual reading the Torah on Simchat Torah.

Article written by Phil Adelman, Beatitudes resident and posted on his behalf by Beatitudes Campus

A Fond Farewell to Becky Black

Becky, I know that I speak for your sales team and the entire campus when I say that it has been absolutely great working with you—your work truly made a lasting impact, and one that has changed the campus for the better in so many ways. I have always appreciated how you were readily available to lend an ear when complex considerations arose on the path to residency and help solve any problem and that you have done so with grace, humor and caring.