About the Author: Karen Hammond is the recreation supervisor/concierge at the Masonic Village at Sewickley.

In recreation, we try very hard to meet various different needs, whether it’s physical, social, emotional, cognitive or spiritual. With each event that we do, each activity that we do, every recreational opportunity, we try and meet as many of those needs as possible.

Our residents here are very, very involved. There are very few events they don’t have a handle in planning. We have one large scale event every month. Fifty percent of those are planned completely by residents, and I just support them. I also work with our dining services department, which is amazing, and our housekeeping and maintenance departments are there for whatever we need. We have a good team here of people who put all this together.

The residents tell me what they like to do, and I plan around what they give me. I have a file that’s inches thick of different ideas they’ve given me, and I pull from that.

What’s On the Calendar?

We have a recreation trip every Wednesday. We go somewhere in the area, whether it’s a full day trip or short trips to restaurants, museums and historical places.

At least once a week in the evening, I have some form of entertainment, whether it’s an educational or historical speaker, the Pittsburgh Banjo Club or various different musicians who come in. All of our residents are capable of enjoying this, and we usually have a very large crowd in the assembly room on those nights.

Our residents love to play cards, so there are several different bridge games going on, as well as pinochle and 500. They also love to do jigsaw puzzles, and we have a group who shoots pool on a regular basis. Our wellness center has everything you could possibly need including exercise classes. We really encourage physical activity. We offer movie nights and lifelong learning programs as well.

We have shopping trips Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. On Sundays, we have a worship service, and we also transport residents to local churches, so if they have a church they belonged to before they moved here, they’re still able to attend.

A Personal Touch

I try and do little things for the residents as much as I can. As one example, we have a resident who is extremely active. She’s slowing down now, but she’s been known to jump out of airplanes, go on hot air balloon rides and things like that. She intrigues me. I want to be like her when I grow up. Just over the last five years, she stopped jumping out of planes, and she’s close to 90 years old.

I asked her what it was she wanted to do in her life that she hadn’t done yet, and her answer came very quickly and very simply: “I want to ride on a Harley.” Several years ago, we made that happen for her. We had a couple of Harleys with big Harley drivers pull up. She hopped on the back of one, and I hopped on the other, and we went off for a ride into the sunset. She was just amazed by that.

There is not a day that I leave this campus without learning something from our residents, whether it’s an educational piece of knowledge or just about life itself. These people have stories to tell, they have so many experiences. They’re amazing, every single one of them. I have the best job in the whole wide world. It’s just fantastic.