Danyanique Hughes, Life Engagement Director for Harvester Place Memory Care in Burr Ridge, Illinois, was doing some online research recently and came across some information about Northern Illinois Food Bank and their programs to feed those in need in the Northern Illinois area. The Northern Illinois Food Bank is a non-profit group whose goal is to help solve hunger throughout an entire 13 county service area. They are proud member of Feeding America and are the source of nutritious food, innovative feeding programs and hope for over 500,000 people every year.
Danyanique was impressed with what she read about the food bank organization and asked if the residents of Harvester Place could lend a hand. They could indeed! After a bit of planning, a group of residents headed out to the Food Bank warehouse and got to work. Their job was to prepare food products by removing the bar codes and sorting and pack them into boxes so that they could be distributed to families in need.
Theresa Kenaga, Community Relations Director, noted how the residents enjoyed getting out of their familiar environment and out in the broader community. She was also impressed with the level of involvement by community residents. “Residents felt a strong sense of purpose and commented that it was good ‘to get out to work’,” she said.
Socialization is very important for aging individuals, as is establishing a sense of purpose. Studies have shown that aging individuals, when experiencing a sense of purposefulness, feel better both physically and emotionally. It can also have a positive cognitive impact. Engaging in a purposeful activity can help stimulate the brain; something very important for those with dementia.
The Harvester Place staff enjoyed engaging with residents as they packaged the food items and experienced their own sense of purpose in helping the residents help to feed the hungry. While this is the first time they have participated, it won’t be their last. The staff and residents of Harvester Place plan to stay involved with the Northern Illinois Food Bank, hoping to participate quarterly, or even monthly, if possible.
The photo shows the following individuals, from left to right: RuthAnn Green, Alexis Alvarado, Grace Doerk, Suzanne Gasperini, Danyanique Hughes, Billie Sklair, Mario DeMeo, Carole Considine (Harvester Place Executive Director), Normal Jaffe, Frances Franci. Seated is Manda Klancir.