GERRY – The spirit of giving back around the holidays has made its way to Heritage Village in Gerry as the local nursing home rewards their workers in a big way.
Three local nursing home employees won vacations courtesy of Heritage Ministries management as a way to say “thank you” for their perseverance and hard-work throughout the pandemic.
“I think about a year and a half ago we really recognized the struggle and that it wasn’t gonna end anytime soon,” explains CEO Lisa Haglund. “And our hearts were really, ‘how do we help everyone on the front lines?’ And we’ve come in and we’ve done different things but it never really feels like enough.”
Following a company-wide nomination process three grand prize winners were selected: Charity Dowd, Wendy Kachermeyer and first place winner Angie Johnson who won a trip worth $3,000 and five days paid time off.
“It’s more than humbling because the people I work with are amazing,” says Johnson. “I’ve watched everyone in the kitchen sacrifice time. They come in early, stay late, they do extra positions because we’ve lost so many staff due to the shot mandates. We’re kind of a skeleton crew at times but we get it done.”
In addition to the grand prize, Kachermeyer won a $1,500 trip and three days paid time off, while Dowd will receive a trip worth $500 and one day paid time.
“It’s great to feel appreciated by your coworkers, but honestly everybody in every facility deserves this,” says Dowd.
The CEO hopes the winners use the vacation as a time to do something they never would have thought possible and make a dream come true.
“I’ve been personally struggling with managing work and stress and how do you refresh? And how do you stay in touch with your faith and how do you keep plugging through when everyday is a new mandate? And for me you just think about, how do our employees feel as they’re getting masked up everyday? So for me it was really thinking, ‘how do I refresh? How do they refresh?’,” said Haglund.
Administrator Valerie Johnson notes that there is no amount of thank-you’s that can truly compensate for the work that these employees do.
“For the staff that come in day after day knowing what we’re dealing with. Masking up, gowning up, wearing eye protection, but they’re here for our residents,” says Johnson. “Our residents come first and they need to be taken care of. And they have no control over the COVID in the building, but we do.”
Heritage says the three winners represent different areas of the staff that often go unrecognized; a person from the dietary department, the medical records team, and the activities department were all chosen.