Editor’s note: the following article is part of a series of articles The Ripple is doing entitled “The Day in the Life of.” The article is written in the first person from the reporter’s perspective.
It’s a cold and dreary Tuesday when I pull into the parking lot of New Horizons Adult Day Services. Recovering from a very late night of knocking out an early deadline and very little sleep I stumble into the building hoping that I can at least make it through the day without falling asleep in the corner.
When I arrive, Marty Driver, the program director, is already hard at work leading New Horizons clients in an early morning stretching circle to prepare them for the day ahead. The room is nearly silent save for a relaxing melody with nature sounds playing lightly in the background. The cold, dreariness I came from just moments before changes to a warm and more comforting feeling.
Driver guides the clients into different stretches, explaining what muscle each stretch is benefiting and always keeping a watchful eye on the group.
Each day the clients have a busy schedule filled with activities and trips that keep them occupied from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. On the agenda today are one-on-one activities, snack break, a trip to the Yadkin Family YMCA, story time, lunch and Christmas play practice.
Once stretching is over everyone goes their own way to the tables spread throughout the room where they will color, do puzzles, play games, read or just enjoy some quiet time. This is the first moment of the morning where Driver can step away while her staff watches over the activity room and get some of her paper work, phone calls and emails in.
“We are short a staff member today so I am filling in with that person’s clients today,” Driver said.
Driver took over as program director from New Horizons earlier in the year after serving as the clinical nurse manager for New Horizons Home Care. Even though she now works with the Adult Day Services program full-time she finds herself pulled back to home care frequently to fill in for friends and co-workers struck with illness or family tragedy.
“There’s a nurse out at the home care center this week as well so I have to fill in and visit that nurse’s clients today when I finish here,” Driver said.
It’s clear that her day is no walk in the park. As we sit and chat while she clicks away on her computer there are no less than three or four visitors stopping by her cubicle to ask her a question or get her advice or assistance.
After a short 30-minute break and not much marked off her to-do list, Driver must return to the clients to help the rest of the staff prepare snacks and get the clients ready for their trip to the YMCA. The moment Driver walks into the room the clients flock to her. Each one wants to share a story with her or simply share a hug.
She introduces each client to me by name and tells me a little bit about them. It’s clear that each one of them holds a special place in her heart. As everyone bundles up, Driver heads out to the bus and assists the rest of the staff in loading clients in wheel chairs.
After a long loading up process Driver and I throw on some rain coats and head out the door to follow the clients to the YMCA where the unloading process will begin.
The clients are excited to make their weekly visit to the YMCA and go straight for a basketball or start making laps around the gymnasium floor. Many of the YMCA regulars are familiar with New Horizons staff and clients and stop their exercise routine to catch up.
Driver takes up with clients Jeff Church, Adam Davis and Janet Vestal to shoot rebounds. Many of the clients compete for her attention and she makes a point to interact with everyone while she’s there. She encourages everyone to engage in some activity whether it is a slow walk around the room or challenge someone to a game of ball.
The YMCA visit draws to a close and Driver is once again tasked with loading up the client’s bus so we can head back to New Horizons for a few activities before lunch. We narrowly escape a rainy return and get everyone inside dry just in time for a quick story time session before lunch.
Driver calls everyone to join her in the television room and once everyone has settled into their favorite spot she gives them the option of two books. The majority chooses Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff..And It’s All Small Stuff.
Driver picks up where the group last left off and reads a columnist’s suggestions on finding a little bit of quiet time in your day. She jokes that I could learn from this writer as well as he describes how he is up early in the morning writing without much sleep.
After a discussion about why it is important for everyone to find their quiet time and how some of the clients use their quiet time she moves into the next column focused on learning to understand others instead of trying to be understood.
The group seems thoroughly relaxed and ready to take in some lunch and Driver has to steal away to tackle another of her duties, president of the Yadkin County Chamber of Commerce. Today is the monthly luncheon held by the chamber and Driver must be there to lead the meeting and interact with her fellow business leaders and owners.
Social butterfly is not a fair definition of Driver as she goes above and beyond your typical social citizen. After arriving at the Yadkin Senior Center, Driver is off greeting nearly everyone in the room and introducing herself to anyone she doesn’t recognize.
She takes in a quick lunch and rushes up to the podium to lead the meeting and reminding the chairs of anything they might have missed in their reports. Her ability to stay on top of so many tasks at once is quite astounding.
Once the meeting has drawn to a close and we’ve assisted with the lunch cleanup we head back to New Horizons where the clients have already completed a rough run through of their upcoming Christmas play and are preparing to go home for the day.
Driver checks in with all of the clients, helping them put on their coats and making sure that they have their lunch box and other belongings and then walking them out to meet their families. Although five or more people may be pulling her in different directions she continues to make it a point to make each person feel recognized and heard.
Once the madness has calmed down, Driver can take a short breath before she has to duck away into a conference room to meet with the family of a new potential client and then she’ll have to hurry off to visit her home care patients.
We separate for the day and I leave New Horizons with a new appreciation for the work of the New Horizons program director.
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.