Why Iona’s Team Loves Working with Older Adults

August 14, 2019

Happy World Senior Citizen’s Day! This day was created to acknowledge and show appreciation for older adults, and raise awareness on issues to build a more connected and inclusive society. In honor of today, our staff shared what keeps them coming back to Iona, as well as what they love most about serving older adults.

We asked staff to respond to one of these three questions:

  • What is your most memorable short story of an older adult that you worked with via Iona?
  • What has been your greatest impact at Iona thus far?
  • What’s your favorite thing about serving older adults around the city?

Here are their heartwarming responses.

What’s your favorite thing about serving older adults around the city?

  • Social Worker Trevor Goodyear – “In the hardest moments of their lives the work I do can bring them some solace, connection, and dignity.”
  • Deputy Director Susan Messina – “I started at Iona having worked with a variety of populations –teens, young adults, pregnant women, and people who are dying – but I had never worked with older adults. I admit I had always been a little afraid that I wouldn’t know what to say around older people. Working at Iona and getting to know hundreds of amazing older adults – staff, board members, volunteers, clients/participants, and advocates – has enriched my life enormously and now I don’t fear talking to older folks!”
  • Home Delivered Meals Manager Jakia Muhammad – “My favorite part about serving adults who are aging and thriving around the city is visiting their homes. I’m usually in awe of their art collections and artifacts collected through their lives. It gives me more insight about who the person really is and makes them feel like more than just a participant. By asking questions about their things, it creates a genuine dialogue and leaves a lasting impression. I’m grateful to hear their stories. They motivate me to travel, see the world, and take risks.”
  • Front Desk Coordinator Fran Forman’s favorite thing is, “Greeting visitors and extending a pleasant attitude to help them feel good.”
  • Both Care Manager Dixcy Bosley and Building Manager Darryl Simpson “love hearing about their fascinating life stories”.
  • Communications Coordinator LaVita Gunby – “Knowing that the work I do supports a growing yet under-resourced population of people makes me feel content.”

What is your most memorable short story of an older adult that you worked with via Iona?

  • Department of Aging & Community Living Project Director Ashlea Steiner – “My favorite story is about “Turnip Tom”. Tom G. was a St. Alban’s Active Wellness Program participant. He was often around when we had our Farmer’s Market, yet hardly ever asked for any produce. But when he heard that there were turnips, he shared his story. As a young boy growing up in Virginia, all of Tom’s neighbors had a turnip patch. In Tom’s words, whenever his buddies got hungry, “they bent down and pulled up a turnip.” Someone in the group would always have a pocket knife on hand to cut it open and share. At our market, Tom asked for only one turnip because it reminded him of when he was a boy. I was reminded then about the memories that foods carry and it isn’t always about quantity in delivering services but the quality of meaningful connections.”
  • I&R Program Manager Leland Kiang – “A man once called inquiring about long-term care options for his wife. He was convinced that his wife had memory loss and needed additional care. As we spoke, I noticed that it didn’t sound like his wife had memory loss but something else. Through further conversation with the husband, I expressed my idea and suggested that his wife get additional testing to be sure. It turned out the wife had delirium, and not memory loss, which resulted in them not needing long-term care.”

What has been your greatest impact at Iona thus far?

  • Educational & Wellness Program Manager Lena Frumin – “We have increased the opportunity for socialization, exercise, field trips, and art expression throughout Wards 2 and 3. People who have participated in our programs seem to really enjoy them and I have loved getting to know some of them and colleagues at other organizations (libraries, Parks & Recreation sites, and faith communities) who serve a similar clientele. We have several participants who come to many of our programs repeatedly and seem to be getting a lot from them.”