We’ve written previously on the blog about the ways VMRC staff have adjusted to COVID-19 across campus. Some have taken on new tasks as grocery shoppers and health screeners while others have adapted the way they do things to work in a digital format. Today we’re focusing on one employee, Jessica Martin, who began as a Transportation/Life Enrichment Assistant just a few weeks before the effects of the coronavirus started to impact day-to-day life at VMRC. As transportation needs have slowed, the Life Enrichment portion of her job became the focus. In Life Enrichment, she spends one-on-one and group time with residents. Jessica describes below what that transition has been like and the impact of interacting with residents on a daily basis has had.
At the end of February, I began working as the full-time shuttle driver for VMRC. It was only after a few weeks of “learning the ropes” when my position changed to the other part of my title - Life Enrichment Assistant. Beginning fresh again was a challenge at first because I was neither mentally, nor emotionally prepared. Through the frequent and drastic changes, I have learned that the Lord has a plan through it all. Having such close interactions with residents, I have come to learn so many life stories, not to mention the humor they offer!
Four residents by the names of Neddy, Mary, Fern, and Charlotte have had the most profound impact.
Neddy reacquainted me with poetry--which I used to write and read often. A few days a week, I spend time reading either Robert Frost or other poems. We also read and write cards together. She has been emotional support as well as a spiritual encouragement in my life lately. I have been grateful for her articulate appreciation for the time I make for her.
Mary is quick to crack a joke, as well as relay stories of her childhood and raising her own children. She told me of the heart-wrenching, widespread Polio outbreak that affected many during her youth. And, to say she is humorous is an understatement. She keeps me laughing with her jokes that are quickly followed up with a grin.
Fern has blessed my heart with how much she enjoys spending time with me. One afternoon while in her company, she asked if I was married, to which I replied “yes.” Her warm face lit up: “That’s so lovely! When I was younger and girls started to date, I asked them two questions: 1) is he a GOOD man? and 2) is he a GODLY man?” She went on to say how important these traits are. Fern reminds me of my own grandma who speaks wisdom into others as well. Her dear husband was so good to her. The picture of the two of them with arms wrapped around each other portrays fond memories of him and gives me a warm feeling of the deep, true love they had for one another.
Charlotte has helped draw me closer to the Lord. Following a devotional I read to her one day, I asked her, “How can I pray for you?” With her sweet, sincere eyes, she replied, “Just pray that I will be more and more like Jesus.” Those words hit me so hard and since then, I am reminded to be more and more like Jesus whenever I see her. The love she has for her family and friends is evident with the shelves and walls filled with their pictures. I thoroughly delight to be in her inviting room where she always reminds me to ‘come again’.
It’s clear from the words Jessica shares that not only is she helping to enrich the lives of residents, but they are also enriching her life as well. Reading her words is a good reminder that in a time of uncertainty and change, silver linings do indeed exist and present themselves in ways we may not have been expecting.