One resident's trash is another animal's treasure

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Elizabeth Newman, McKnight's Senior Editor
Elizabeth Newman, McKnight's Senior Editor
Perhaps you regularly see acts of altruism that restore your faith in humanity. Given that I work in journalism and live in the city, I do not. Therefore, exceptional kindness gives me pause.

Or in this case, paws.

I stumbled across a news release from West Haven Manor in Apollo, PA, that talked about how its culinary and nutrition department adopted a kennel at the nearby Indiana County Humane Society in 2012. The department plans to renew their commitment for 2013.

Now, when I receive news about do-gooders in long-term care, it tends to be focused around direct caregivers, especially nurses. There's nothing wrong with that, obviously, but I was delighted that members of the culinary and nutrition department were the ones who wanted to give back to the local community, specifically shelter dogs and cats that had fallen on hard times.

The department, which oversees food for 177 people in the skilled nursing section, as well as a personal care home with 80 beds, had already started collecting aluminum cans when they realized submitting it to the scrap metal yard could raise money for a good cause, says Jeremy T. Manners, CDM CFPP, FMP, culinary and nutrition director. In addition to collecting the cans, the team raised money through food basket raffles and donations, ultimately accumulating a few hundred dollars so that the kennel could be emblazoned with its name. Each month, the Humane Society sends the culinary and nutrition department a letter with an update about their sponsored kennel and the pet that resides there.

In addition to the support that provides dogs such as Mustang, a terrier mutt pictured above right, it also meant that some of the employees could regularly visit the dog in its kennel to see the fruits of their labor. Employees such as culinary and nutrition assistant Kim Shellhammer and certified dietary manager Carol Schnell, CDM CFPP, (pictured at left) also collected pet food and blankets, and when the resident bed pads become unfit for humans, they wash them and take them to the shelter. They're not only helping out the animals, they are also reducing the environmental footprint of the facility.

“We have a lot of animal lovers and a lot of us have gotten pets through this animal shelter,” says Manners (who is also known as the owner of a rescued corgi mix named Buddy). “We're pretty close-knit. We're all long-term employees, one of us has been here for 30 years.”

Animal rescue is tough work (ask me sometime about the time my animal rescue group took on a hoarding case). Much like long-term care, there's never enough money and there's often a feeling that you are floundering out in the woods.

But West Haven Manor's endeavor shows that businesses and long-term care employees have the potential to make a dent in helping their local community when they are given the freedom to be inventive. In an era where we're assaulted by relentless negativity, it's refreshing to come across a group of people like the ones in the West Haven Culinary and Nutrition Department.

Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.