Caring for the elderly is a challenging, yet rewarding calling. Senior Services is only able to meet that call because of determined volunteers, generous donors and what we believe to be, the world’s most dedicated staff. Martha Thomas has been the epitome of that dedication for the last 15 years. This month Senior Services says farewell to Martha as she turns the page to the next chapter of her life in retirement. We sat down with her and asked her to reflect on her career at Senior Services and what serving elders in Forsyth County has meant to her.
Reflections on Retirement
by Martha Thomas, Williams Adult Day Center
I’ve worked with the senior community for 30 years. I started out working in an Assisted Living Facility, and then in 2002 I came to the Williams Center to interview for a receptionist job. Prior to interviewing, I had actually made up my mind to just look around and gracefully turn down the job, but it wasn’t that easy! I just wasn’t expecting what I found. If you’ve ever been to the Williams Center, you know what I mean. It is a mesmerizing, or maybe even magical, place. It seems to have a healing and calming effect on one’s soul. I noticed the participants were all singing and having fun. To me it felt like a safe haven from the outside world. I immediately knew I would love being part of this special team, as I, too, was in need of a hug and a little de-stressing!
The Williams Adult Day Center has been my home away from home for 15 years. Now, I suddenly find myself at retirement, and I think, “How in the world did I get to this point in my life?” Is life too short; is it just super-fast; or has the universe played a trick on me by pushing fast forward? Whichever the case, I’m happy to have had the opportunity to spend much of my career at the Williams Adult Day Center.
I’d say the best part of my job has been meeting all the participants, their families and their loved ones. As the receptionist, I enjoyed being the first face the participants would see in the mornings. Some families even had my picture printed to show their loved one who they were going to see! I looked forward to their smiling faces each day, as much as they did mine. With short-term memory loss, consistency is key, and a basic routine is best. Our routine made each morning something special. I’ll never forget the memories we made and their smiling faces.
When I became administrative coordinator, I got to work closely with the families in a different way but one that was just as important. In that role I was afforded the opportunity help families with the challenges of working out enrollment details, securing financial aid when needed and assuring confidence in their decision to trust us with the care of their loved ones. I’m also extremely proud to have played a role in the Williams Adult Day Center’s participation with the Veterans Association, through which veterans receive financial assistance to attend daily.
What I think I’ll miss most is being a part of this big Senior Services family. Just like a family, everyone plays a role. It’s not just the staff caring for the participants; the participants care for us and each other, as well. Many participants find purpose and gratification through nurturing their friends and lending a helpful hand. We encourage participants to use their strengths. It’s gratifying to see participants focus not on what they can’t do, but on what they can do. As I reflect on retirement, I’m going to miss this extraordinary staff. We don’t just work together; we love together, cry together, and share together.
I just want to thank Senior Services for the opportunity to have worked 15 years for such a wonderful organization. Senior Services is a lighthouse in all this darkness. Our mission has not moved and remains the same after all these years. I pray others will take our lead and join us. We are all going to be seniors one day. We are all brothers and sisters, sharing our love and resources with one another. I pray our mission remains strong and seniors continue to lean on our services. Truly, what we accomplish together does make a difference and forever changes lives.