Updated: Oct 29
Happy Holidays dear reader! Most people know by now that residents and staff at Commonwealth House take the holiday season very seriously. This year, it seems it is even more important to embrace your holiday spirit, considering the circumstances. When it comes to the holidays, we like to focus on the 3 “F’s”: Food, Family, and Festiveness! Don’t know what I’m talking about? Then let’s take a closer look:
Naturally, you can’t have a proper holiday without a fantastic feast! In the past, residents have gone out for a big fun family gathering elsewhere (or sometimes families enjoy holiday dinner with us, which is so much fun and something we really look forward to doing next year! You are all invited!). Of course with Covid that just isn’t a safe option for our residents, so our staff has had to come in and save the day with a stay-at-home holiday event to be remembered! I would say that so far they have sure delivered the goods.
For example, our Thanksgiving Day festivities began with a sausage and gravy casserole for Brunch, then Thanksgiving trivia and decorations with Laura, followed by our big Thanksgiving feast featuring turkey two ways (baked and deep-fried!), sausage stuffing, Mandi’s famous broccoli casserole, and other tasty treats. Finally, everyone wrapped up the evening with lively games of Bingo late(ish) into the night! It was a super fun day, no one went to bed hungry, and all the staff went above and beyond to help our residents enjoy what was likely a really tough night.
To continue this tradition, on Christmas Eve we are planning another fantastic feast! We put the main course to a vote by the residents and the overwhelming winner was Prime Rib! So Mandi went out to BJ’s yesterday and selected the biggest, juiciest slab of meat they had for us to cook up for Christmas dinner. I’m not sure how they are going to fit it in the oven! We’ll start off the evening with a cheese platter as well as shrimp cocktails, which are always a big hit. Then for dessert, Mandi is going to tap into her extensive pastry and baking experience and treat us to individual homemade molten chocolate lava cakes! Delicious holiday decadence!
The toughest part about this year is not being able to see our residents spend the holidays in the warm embrace of their loving families. Although there is nothing to take the place of the human touch, we are always looking for alternative ways to bring people together, even though they may be physically apart. Necessity being the mother of invention, many technologies that bring people together have become mainstream this year that otherwise may not have gained traction. Would Zoom ever have become a part of society if it weren’t for Covid? In our search for the best device to allow families to talk as though they
were in the same room, we discovered the FaceBook Portal. This is a little camera that you hang off the top of your tv, and it connects with a FaceBook user or another Portal and projects the callers image on the TV screen. It also automatically focuses and zooms in on the subject, which allows one to move about the room without going out of frame. We bought one and put it in one of the common rooms, and arranged for family calls on Thanksgiving day. It was a resounding success! One of our residents had 6 families on all at once and she was so happy to see everyone up on the big screen that she broke into tears! We love to see our residents be able to spend time with their families that are scattered all over the country, so please don’t hesitate to ask to have a call scheduled with your elder loved one if you haven’t already. You only need a FaceBook account, and it also works on WhatsApp.
Speaking of visiting with family, in an exciting turn of events, the Rhode Island Department of Health has asked us to begin allowing visitations again! With the cold weather here for good, outdoor visits have become tough. Therefore, we will be going forward with the construction of our specially designed V.V.V. (Veiled Visiting Vestibule), which will be located on the front porch of the house! The V.V.V will be veiled in tent material and heated for comfort. Please bring a phone so you can talk with your elder on the other side of the glass. The plan is to have the vestibule in operation by Christmas Eve, so families should look for further information on how to schedule a visit with their loved one shortly after receiving this letter.
Commonwealth House is always a festive place when you walk in. Not a day goes by this time of year without holiday decorations adorning the house, inside and out. We could just do the necessary minimum; get one small Christmas tree, maybe a few lights…but for Laura, that would just not do! Our House Manager, Laura, is quite simply crazy for the holidays! Once one holiday has passed, you can be assured that within a day several boxes of the next holiday will come up from the basement and bedeck every surface of the inside of the house with festiveness and joy! And when it comes to holidays, Christmas is the big one. Laura has a Christmas village scene that goes up in the small common room that is worthy of a museum! From every light, window, door and handle will dangle something that reminds you of the joy and spirit of the season. We have not one, not two, but 3 Christmas trees lit up in our little abode. It’s just how we do things around here!
A Very Special Birthday Bash!
This past November, we were thrilled to celebrate a 100th birthday for one of our residents! This is a first for us (and for her), so we were not about to let it go by without setting up some big festivities. First, a nice manicure was in order, because you have to look good on your 100th. Then the whole neighborhood came out for a socially distanced car parade to celebrate the big day! There must have been 50 cars full of people honking and waving and sending good cheer. Thankfully the weather was mild and the whole house was able to sit in the front yard and watch the show. Finally, a big birthday party indoors, including cake, ice cream, and a bouquet of 100 roses! Recognition from the Mayor of Warwick and the Rhode Island State Legislature capped off a wonderful day for a wonderful lady. Congratulations!
Toys For Tots – The Spirit of Giving is Strong!
Our Marketing Director, Christine Andrews, reached out to the Toys for Tots organization and asked if we could be a donation station for the effort. Run by the US Marine Corps, Toys for Tots is a program where people can donate toys so that families who are less fortunate can participate in the spirit of giving during the holidays. In a year when more people than usual are down on their luck, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Boy was I amazed! By the end of the first week of the drive, generous donors had filled two giant bins of toys! We had to special order a third bin, which also was full by the time the drive ended and the marines picked them up. Even after the end of the drive, more toys kept coming in, and I had to take them to another donation site down the street! It was really heartwarming to see the immense generosity that people can have, and we just want to thank all those who donated! Lots of kids are going to have a really special holiday this year because of you!
Help Is On The Way!
This month, the RI Department of Health released a plan for the distribution and administration of the new Covid-19 vaccine! This is great news, and marks the beginning of the end of this awful year-long ordeal. Our community has been designated priority 1-A, which means our residents and staff will be able to receive the vaccine once frontline healthcare workers and nursing home residents have been vaccinated. The state has said that this should have us administering the vaccine towards the end of January. In the meantime, we
must stay vigilant with our current policies of mask wearing, testing, and no in-home visitations. We don’t expect things to change overnight once the vaccine has been administered, but we do see a gradual shift back to normal operation over the next few months. We are so looking forward to the day that we can open our doors again to all of our loving families and see them embrace their elder loved one for the first time in a long time. We promised everyone a big party once we can all be together again, and I intend to deliver!
Thank you for reading our newsletter! Please let us know your thoughts by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also look out for an emailed survey that will be sent out in the middle of November. Your feedback helps us provide the best care we can for your loved ones, so please complete the survey and return it when you receive it.
We currently have availability and we are able to take in new residents; if you are interested in learning more or have someone in mind that might benefit from the services we provide, please reach out to Marketing Director Christine Andrews at email@example.com. Have a fantastic fall and stay safe!
655 Commonwealth Ave
Warwick, RI, 02886