Vender is not only the talented Ms. Hopkins County Senior Classic 2019, she is a loving and gifted singer who volunteers regularly at Carriage House Manor Nursing Home in Sulphur Springs. “Though she doesn’t have a family member in residence here, she likes to come out to cheer people up and lift their spirits, and the residents love her!” stated Melissa Harris, Activities Director at Carriage House. During March and April, COVID-19 restrictions had put a hold on Vender’s indoor appearances, but on Thursday April 30, 2020, she could stand it no longer. Vender let us know at KSST that she had been given permission to sing outside the breezeway at 10:30am, and that the residents were going to be brought out to hear her. Wearing their protective masks and a light covering or shawl, twenty or so residents relaxed in wheelchairs while listening to the acapella gospel program. Some clapped along to give rhythm to songs like “I’ll Fly Away” and “Jesus Loves Me” and many reacted to the verses of “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Say Amen”. It was a happy half-hour on a beautiful Spring morning, and an uplifting time in the day of the residents of Carriage House.
Activities Director Harris shared, “Teamwork has been what’s most impressive about the last month or two at Carriage House. For the safety of our patients, our team has grown really close during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that closeness has become a source of joy, and has even crossed over to the families as well! Our residents are happy here!” Frequent activities that Harris includes is Facetime on the phone for residents who have family whom they hadn’t been able to see during the rainy early weeks of the pandemic. And now she helps them with Window Visits too. “Window Visits are a social-distancing activity we can hold during a 15 or 20 minute period, where they can see their family members in person. The resident is wheeled to the Sunroom, a large room facing the front parking lot where roses bloom among plantings under the windows. Seated inside near a window with the windows kept closed, the resident can talk by phone to their family seated outside. Regular visits like this from their family and friends is a big boost for our residents. The grandkids have even visited outside the window to show artwork or how much they’ve grown. The Window Visits are bringing joy through this time of seclusion, and are so much looked forward to. The visits may be brief, but for some residents, 15 minutes is about all they can handle, and almost always, they leave the Sunroom with a smile. I have worked here for about 7 years total, and this COVID-19 pandemic has been a most challenging time for care facilities, but out of it has come some of the most rewarding moments of my career here at Carriage House Manor”.