Kelsey Pangborn

When things are tough, we rise up. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. When a pandemic sweeps the world … what can you do but make the most of it?

We don’t know about you, but we at Three Pillars Senior Living Communities in Dousman, WI, never imagined spring 2020 would be like this. The COVID-19 pandemic has been frustrating, frightening, distressing and disruptive. It’s also been challenging, ever-changing and confusing.

And yet, while it’s been all those things, it’s also quietly drawn out the positive side of many situations. When there’s something to smile about, the smiles are pure and genuine. When there’s a kind gesture, its meaningfulness is magnified. Throughout it all, there have been poignant reminders that when you look for the good, you find it.

While we can all agree that maintaining social distancing, wearing face masks and staying put can feel like a loss, we’re also experiencing more of a few things that we hope stick around long after the pandemic is over:

Resident June enjoys her hairdo.

More Gratitude – You don’t have to travel far on our campus until you’ll hear a “thank you.” The gratitude is bountiful, and it’s expressed freely and genuinely for kind gestures, big and small. Whether it’s a recreation yherapist helping style a resident’s hair in lieu of getting into the beauty shop, or a team member taking home a free half-gallon of Wisconsin milk that our organization purchased to support local dairies, there’s a lot to be grateful for.

All Three Pillars staff embrace teamwork.

More Teamwork – If there’s ever been a time when working closely with teammates and peers helps the greater good, it’s now. Although maintaining physical social distance, the feeling of togetherness now is stronger than ever. Getting through a pandemic is easier, happier and more bearable with a great team and group of friends by your side.

Residents Duane and Wilma savor a video chat.

More Simplicity – There’s joy in the simple things right now, and it’s making us happy. For example, the sun streaming through a window with the social media trend of happy heart paper cut-out decorations makes heart-shaped shadows on the floor, which makes us take pause and smile. That pause is a welcome one. A simple letter received in the mail is appreciated even more now than before. Every moment of a simple video call is relished between husband and wife who can’t see each other in person. We’re not taking anything for granted and appreciating the small things.

“Sunshine Mail” for our residents has poured in.

More Creativity – When it comes to helping our residents (and co-workers) stay engaged, maintain some semblance of a “normal life,” and stay optimistic during this, the ideas have been flowing. To combat potential feelings of isolation, we requested “Sunshine Mail” from the community to share with all residents, and boy, did the community deliver! Since we can’t host our usual group ice cream socials or happy hours, we got creative and took the refreshments on the road with doorstep delivery. We’ve implemented window visits, scavenger hunt challenges, an outdoor wellness circuit and even a traveling group art project to keep things interesting and fun.

While we’d rather not have had to experience this pandemic in the first place, we can certainly shift our perspective to one of appreciation for the silver linings and the good it brought out in us. Stay safe.

Kelsey Pangborn is director of customer experience, Three Pillars Senior Living Communities, Dousman, WI.