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Published: April 10, 2020

[blog] kindess-at-kendal

Kendal residents and staff have always helped each other in myriad ways. But sheltering-in-place and social distancing have people finding new ways to show kindness and caring to one another.

Kendal resident Nancy Garver broke her shoulder in early March and moved from her cottage into the Stephens Care Center (SCC) to recover. Now, with the care center off limits to everyone except staff, Nancy is doing her part to spread cheer despite having a “broken wing.”

From leaving “thinking of you” sticky notes for other SCC residents to watering plants donated by independent residents, Nancy knows how important community is.

“My husband Len and I moved to Kendal in 1994 and he died in the care center in 2014. Now many of the people who took care of him are taking care of me,” she says, adding, “One thing I have is a lot of time.”

The door to Kendal ‘s kindness flows both ways for Nancy. Residents are taking turns feeding her cats in the cottage, and her walking partner, Tina Graf, calls every morning as she heads outside to walk. “I go with her by phone now,” Nancy says.

We're a month into Ohio’s shelter-in-place and Kendal residents are stepping up to help each other and lift spirits in ways big and small.

Delivering Groceries, Celebrating a Centennial Birthday

In mid-March Kendal implemented a hard closure, which means residents must stay on the 100-acre campus. Kendal dining services delivers meals daily to the cottages and apartments, but many residents like to cook their own meals, which is where the organizational skills of resident Donna Baznik have come into play.

Donna divided the campus into geographic areas and assigns a cadre of about 50 residents to deliver groceries bought from local stores and picked up by a Kendal employee. She put together another grid to dispatch residents to help deliver the five newspapers that arrive daily.

“We may not have our regular activities and are having to keep six feet of separation and needing to wash, wash, wash (our hands). But we are all in it together. This is the best place to live,” she says.

A pandemic comes along every century or so, just like a centennial birthday, which is what one resident celebrated this month. One of the founders of Kendal, which opened in 1993, he now lives in the Stephens Care Center.

Kendal’s baker made a 100th birthday cupcake cake so it can be easily shared (with ice cream!) and dining services staff put together a video and birthday card with greetings from dozens of team members. Fellow residents shared cards and good wishes in writing, since they could not say "Happy Birthday" in person. 

Sewing Face Masks for Fellow Residents

Sewing face masksWhen guidance from the CDC suggested that people would benefit by wearing face masks outside of their homes, about 13 residents jumped right into cutting and sewing fabric face masks for use by their neighbors. And they managed to create 122 masks in just 4 days, using sheets from housekeeping and laundry! Everyone wanted one.

As elastic became difficult to find, some of the masks use hairbands for loops. But a good supply of elastic was ordered and finally shipped, so members of the group will continue to sew masks, though perhaps at a more leisurely pace. 

Kendal Songs and Positive Posters

Resident Don Parker wrote a song “COVID You Sly Corona” sung to the tune of “You Are My Sunshine” and at 3 p.m. residents in one of the neighborhoods come out on their patios and sing the upbeat lyrics.

You sly corona, you nasty virus,
You drove us inside, but we won’t stay,
We’re coming outside, minding our distance,
We’ll sing together and keep you away!

We are resilient, we are resourceful,
We help each other the Kendal way,
We’ll do whatever it takes to get through
‘‘Til that healthy and sunshiny day.

“Individually in our cottages many of us are anxious and depressed, the weight of it is building because we are high risk, but there is a lot of gratitude. Being at Kendal is like being in a safe place, a bubble, and we know we’re privileged,” says Don, who has lived at Kendal with his wife Joyce for nearly 12 years.

Resident Charlotte McGowan found another way to spread hope – she organized a socially distant poster brigade.

A couple weeks ago about 50 residents lined up around the main entrance at Heiser Community Center, each 6 feet apart, holding posters with a variety of messages for the outside world: “Hi Mom, I’m Fine,” “Kendal Resists,” “Thank You Kendal Staff,” “Online Teachers, Thanks,” “Pray for the World,” “Bring Beer,” “No One is an Island.”

Charlotte, who moved to Kendal with her husband Terry a year ago, wore a headband with bunny ears and held a sign that read “Still hopping along.” 

Nancy watched from a window in the Stephens Care Center, disappointed she could not join in. When several of the poster brigade saw Nancy they walked up to the window, waving posters with big smiles.

Says Nancy, “I got all choked up.”