FHAMC Board Member/WHT Team
As we struggle during this pandemic with the vast challenges people are uniquely facing, many of us are feeling the loss, not only in the workplace, but also in a broader sense – the loss of connection to our loved ones. The Women’s History Trail (WHT), a project of the Folk Heritage Association of Macon County (FHAMC), wanted to do something for the community and our thoughts turned to the elderly living in senior care facilities in Franklin and the many dedicated healthcare workers taking care of these wonderful residents.
How it all began
Barbara McRae, one of the WHT co-chairs who is also the Town of Franklin’s vice mayor, sent out a personal email encouraging a response to this question, “What can we strong, energetic, intelligent women do to help our community now? Most of us are stuck at home … if you’re like me, you may feel straightjacketed by the restrictions. I welcome all your suggestions. If you have an idea for how the town can help its struggling citizens, please let me know. If you have an idea for how we of the Women’s History Trail, as a group (socially distant!) can help, I’d love to hear it…We are all in this together and we can rise together, holding each other up (virtually!).”
WHT members began brainstorming on a plan of action. Member Claire Suminski suggested as a group we do “something that might help support the oldest members of our community.” As FHAMC’s main purpose is to provide living history experiences and preserve our heritage, and with the WHT’s goal to recognize distinguished women who have helped shape a better future for Macon County, it was only fitting that we chose to show appreciation to honor our older generation.
Reflecting firsthand insight into the toll Covid-19 has taken on families with loved ones at residential senior care facilities, I can personally say, these restrictions are hard on everyone. On Mother’s Day – a time when families typically come together to show love and gratitude to the wonderful women in their lives – in-person contact with loved ones at senior care facilities wasn’t possible due to the Governor’s mandate restricting visitors and Covid-19’s high risk to this vulnerable population.
Additionally, recreational large group gatherings have been temporarily suspended to comply with social distancing guidelines, thereby limiting even further, outside community-led activities typically planned for the residents. While the need to protect our loved ones is certainly necessary and understandable, it is still disheartening for all involved.
In order to connect in a meaningful way with these older residents to celebrate Mother’s Day and the arrival of springtime, the WHT committee started working on ways to give recognition. Marty Greeble, another of the WHT co-chairs along with Mary Polanski, took on the role of producing cards, signs and posters and reached out to committee members and WHT supporters for monetary donations to personally cover the cost for this project. Various volunteers came together (via email and phone calls) to organize gifts of flowers and cards for all residents at Macon Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation, Grandview Manor Care Center and The Franklin House. We wanted residents to know that they are being fondly remembered during this time when outside visitors are limited due to health concerns. In addition, according to Anne Hyder, FHAMC Chair/WHT member, “The committee is working out final details to develop a “pen pal” program for residents who would benefit from cards, letters, kid’s drawings, etc. at the above-mentioned facilities.”
Wishing to continue recognition to show appreciation to healthcare staff at the three residential senior care locations in Franklin, the WHT also showered workers with thank you cards, inspirational signs and special goodies.
“I particularly liked the idea of doing something nice for nursing care workers…I think that they’re some of the ones having to do the most extra during this crisis,” said Susan Ervin.
As May 10-16 was designated National Skilled Nursing Care Week, we wanted to thank the dedicated staff serving at these residential senior care facilities in Franklin (skilled nursing and assisted living/memory centers). We deeply appreciate the compassionate commitment of all dedicated healthcare workers, and we extend special heartfelt thanks to those who continue to provide loving care to senior residents all year long, especially during these trying times. As our donations for the project exceeded expectations, the WHT decided to donate remaining funds to CareNet to help those in need in our community.