Clarice McKenzie, an independent living resident at Franklin, moved to Clark for its tight-knit community and impressive life enrichment programming. A self-proclaimed extrovert, McKenzie jumped right into the Clark community, and eventually joined the resident council, where she helps new residents feel welcome.
When COVID-19 started to spread across the United States, Clark had to implement social distancing to best protect its residents. Since community and life enrichment is the core of Clark, staff immediately got creative with the ways to keep the communal spirit going.
From weekly singalongs in the hallway (from a safe distance) to enhanced programming on Clark’s internal TV channel to virtual bingo to Skype calls with family, the team at Clark has worked diligently to provide programming through new mediums and keep the community connected.
McKenzie has been independently living at Clark since 2017, and it was Clark’s community values that initiated her move. With the help of Clark’s staff, McKenzie has found ways to stay involved and engaged with the community during the COVID-19 crisis.
Recently, McKenzie put together an Earth Day program that aired on Clark’s in-house cable network. Earth Day’s 50th anniversary was a big event for the lifelong climate activist, and McKenzie worked with the Clark staff to organize presentation slides and create a video presentation.
“I talked about our rain garden program, and then I talked about why we have climate change,” she said. “What’s causing it and what things we as residents here can do to conserve energy, recycle carefully, save water and more.”
After the program, McKenzie said she received notes from people saying they enjoyed her presentation.
“What I appreciated was there was a program on public TV about Earth Day, and they hit every point I did,” McKenzie said with a laugh.
A retired nurse, McKenzie was also able to volunteer her skills when Clark had to start implementing new health procedures due to COVID-19. With her background, McKenzie was able to volunteer a little of her time to assist Clark staff.
Even though adapting to a new way of living has been a bit more challenging as an extrovert, McKenzie feels safe and well taken care of at Clark. She has been impressed with Clark’s quick and serious response time to COVID-19 and the measures put in place to protect staff and residents.
McKenzie is grateful for Clark staff, who make a daily effort to connect with residents and help create unique and personal opportunities – like the Earth Day program – for everyone. McKenzie has also been enjoying regular Skype appointments with loved ones, another way Clark has improvised.
“They’re keeping up with all the the guidelines and regulations from government agencies and the CDC,” McKenzie said. “They’re looking out for our well-being and staying on top of that. The staff has been remarkable and creative.”