Power of community action

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Jill Gilbert
Jill Gilbert
In the six months since Brinton Manor of Glen Mills, PA, teamed up with Kiwanis International, the nation's first SNF-based Aktion Club has already proven a huge success. 

Acting Administrator Linda Stevens says the biggest change she's noticed is that the Aktion Club members have developed goals that she describes as going “outside of the [nursing home] walls,” which have strengthened their ties and commitment to the community.

Helping the community at large

To address the basic needs of the community's homeless families, members recently assembled 160 sandwich lunches, which were then delivered to three local shelters. Showing pride in their community service, one 93-year-old member insisted on attending the presentations at each shelter, despite the fact that she uses a walker to ambulate!

Bonding with the needy families over lunch inspired the club to organize a party at one of the shelters. The memorable event included a DJ hired with members' hard-earned fundraising dollars. For Halloween, the members assembled 100 bags of treats, and on Thanksgiving, all three shelters received full meals. 

They're learning as they go along, notes Frank Werner, president of the Kiwanis Club of West Chester, who says, “Their imaginations are untapped. [Their ideas] far outweigh anything we could come up with for them.” 
He adds that participation at the thrice-monthly meetings hovers between 95% and 100%.

Increased socialization

Activity Director Faith Hastings says members' social interactions with peers and staff has increased significantly, adding, “they have more friends to talk with and projects to talk about. They come out of their rooms more, and feel more fulfilled socially.” 

Stevens also recalls one resident who had depression stayed in her room a lot before joining the club. Now, Stevens says, she comes to all three monthly meetings—and serves as a member of the board. 

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Jill Gilbertis President and CEO of GilbertGuide.com, the industry's leading senior careresource where consumers find practical solutions, expert information and themost comprehensive long-term care facilities and services directory for theirparents and loved ones. She has been interviewed for a CBS News special, was akey presenter at the Pennsylvania Assisted Living Association's annualconference, and was recently interviewed on San Francisco Talk Back. She hasbeen quoted in numerous publications, including The San Francisco Chronicle and The Dallas Morning News and is currently working on a new book,Gilbert Guide to Senior Housing (Penguin/Alpha Books, 2009). Gilbert Guide was founded on theconcept that quality matters, and its primary goal is to educate consumers on abreadth of senior care issues. Visit www.GilbertGuide.com <http://www.GilbertGuide.com> for a comprehensiveprovider database, expert advice, and quality assessment tools that helpconsumers conduct their own “expert” evaluations of providers.

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