“I wanted to do something that mattered.”
Community life specialist Amanda Yergeau started at St. John’s Meadows over a year ago, with no true experience in social recreation or the senior living industry. Nevertheless, her creativity and willingness to try new things has made her a pivotal part of the St. John’s team.
“I have done art all my life,” she says. “I have a fine arts degree, and I was just sick of the office life, the corporate life. But here, everyone is happy. You can see that what you’re doing here actually makes a difference.”
As Amanda goes table-to-table at one of the unique programs she has brought to St. John’s Meadows— “Crafts and Conversations”— she assists residents with their projects, going into detail about how certain paint colors may look better than others.
“It makes their (the residents) day better, it makes my day better. I always am learning from them.”
Amanda says a lot of her “Crafts and Conversations,” classes are a “trust the process” class. She notes that a lot of her ideas may seem daunting to residents, like her “Bubble Art” class. However, she says “they are always willing to try, and the end product is great.”
One resident chimes in to say, “Oh yes, I remember that class. I didn’t expect that one to work, but the bubbles actually turned into hydrangeas on the paper. I never would have thought that it would work. Amanda is so creative.”
Amanda says programs like this allow residents to be creative and socialize with new people; “They can let loose even if maybe they are having a bad day. I always look forward to Tuesday evenings, because we get to hang out and do something different and creative,” she adds.
Amanda says one of the most rewarding experiences of her job is when “there are residents who have never done anything artsy, and then they will come to class, and then they will come every week after. They try it and they love it, it is a great outlet.”
Her motto in these classes is “Well, try it and see.”
This optimistic outlook also seems to be fitting for Amanda’s position at St. John’s.
The community life specialist is charged with the daunting task of compiling events at the Brickstone by St. John’s and St. John’s Meadows campuses into a monthly calendar. One resident, in the midst of painting a sunflower, says “there is always so much going on.”
Amanda is part of a recreation team of four who work on organizing and running daily engaging and fun activities for the residents. “It can range from the ice cream socials, the entertainers that visit, the art classes, to Jeopardy, ‘Manicures and Mingling,’ and even different outings like to the Maplewood Rose Gardens.”
Amanda also works with residents who want to hold their own programs. Recently, she played a big part in St. John’s Meadows first ever bridal fashion show. “It was really great to be a part of it and help with the vision.”
“I am always looking for something new to do, and now residents are giving me suggestions.”
This type of partnership and openness with residents has allowed Amanda’s creativity to flourish at St. John’s.