Story and Photos by Alice Gerard
Senior Contributing Writer
The parking lot at Elderwood on Sept. 20 was full of people looking at classic cars, ordering food from Viola’s food truck, and checking out the basket raffle.
Katey Dulak, activities director at Elderwood, said being able to welcome volunteers and the community back to Elderwood was good after the isolation of the COVID years.
“The COVID years were difficult for residents, as well as for their families,” she said. “Three and a half years, we dealt with it. Sometimes, families couldn’t visit and couldn’t share with their loved ones. This was us bringing it out where they were joined together, feeling like normal. We want them to feel that they have the highest quality of life and the best that it can be. Their lives aren’t over yet. We want them to experience happiness and fun in the community, where they feel they are a part.
“We wanted to have a community event. Elderwood is the only nursing home on Grand Island, and we really want people to know that we are here and to tell them about the services that we offer. Also, we want to be one with our community. We’ve invited crafters and car owners. We’ve also allowed our residents to come out and reminisce about the old cars and the time that they drove.”
Dulak said she was “amazed and overjoyed” by the turnout. “All the staff have been so amazing to help and do what they can for the community to see what we’re about. We’ve really tried, as best as we can, to get the word out, to go out to our community and ask them to be part of us and see what we’re about and what we have to offer. The residents are here. They need to be part of the community. We want to make sure they’re not forgotten.”
For Dulak, her favorite part of the event was in “seeing the intergenerational event, where our community feels we are a part of them as one and that we experienced the residents’ joy that they can sit and talk and be part of the community.
“It’s so nice to see that the families can take their residents out and experience something together. It’s very difficult to get the residents to intermingle in the community, whether they need a wheelchair van, whether they need adaptive equipment. So having this event, the residents and their families can experience something together.”
Volunteers are welcome at Elderwood, Dulak said. Anyone who would like to volunteer is invited to call Elderwood at 716-773-5900 and ask for Katey Dulak.
“I also take care of the volunteers,” she noted. “I will set them up. We would love to have them.”
Potential volunteer jobs include reading to residents or chatting with the residents about life in the past.
“If they want to sit down and chat with the residents, we would love that,” Dulak said. “If there are people who could bring their talents to help the residents, we would love that also.”
Activities at Elderwood’s community day attract a crowd.