Buckner Retirement Services residents weigh in on pandemic impact

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According to a recent survey conducted by Buckner Retirement Services, 96% of senior living residents agree with social distancing and visitation restrictions in place. The survey was distributed to 140 senior adults living across six different Buckner Retirement communities in Texas in early May. The anonymous survey results provide a look into the communities and show how senior adults feel about current safety policies, how they are spending their time and what they feel are the most inconvenient parts of the pandemic.

In the survey, residents were asked what they do for free time during the pandemic. The top answers were 74% are reading, 29% are napping and 63% can be found on the phone with loved ones.

More than 75% of seniors surveyed listed family visits as something they miss most. Other top activities missed within the communities include going to church (56%) and group dining (54%).

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Additionally, residents were asked about inconveniences brought on by the pandemic; they listed wearing masks, visitation restrictions and a lack of group activities as their top answers. Due to the visitation restrictions, senior adults are staying connected to loved ones in a variety of ways. The survey covers the ways they are communicating with family and friends such as letters, texting, social media and video calls.

When it comes to video chatting, 55% admitted they never used the technology before shelter-in-place orders. However, 52% of residents plan to continue using the technology beyond pandemic circumstances.

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“We understand how difficult it is for our residents and their family members and friends to be physically apart during the pandemic, so our goal with the survey and infographic was to provide everyone outside our communities with some more insight,” said Charlie Wilson, senior vice president of Buckner Retirement Services.

“The survey results and infographic help show how residents are staying connected and spending their time, as well as how they feel overall. We are so appreciative of everyone across Texas working together to help protect one of our most vulnerable populations during this pandemic.”

Senior living residents are in turn appreciative for the staff caring for them each day, as senior living staff was one of the top answers to the question, “What are you most thankful for?”

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All Buckner senior living communities have observed strict visitation restrictions since March 13, as well as thorough employee screening procedures. All protocols are consistent with guidelines and recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and PreventionCenters for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Buckner’s six communities include Buckner Villas in Austin, Parkway Place in Houston, Ventana by Buckner in Dallas, Calder Woods in Beaumont, Westminster Place in Longview, and Baptist Retirement Community in San Angelo.

Download a PDF of the full infographic with additional information.

Car parade boost senior adults’ spirits

After weeks of sheltering in place and practicing social distancing measures, most people are ready for some person-to-person interaction. No more so than the senior adults living in Buckner senior living communities.

On March 13, Buckner Retirement Services made the decision to implement visitor restrictions across all six of its Texas senior living communities. Since that time, Buckner staff has worked with residents and their family members to implement creative ways to stay in communication, such as utilizing video conference platforms,

The creativity stepped up a notch with the introduction of car parades.

Friends and family decorated cars and signs and rode by the communities, hanging out car windows waving and cheering to the seniors and staff who stepped outside to view the parade.

Buckner staff continued to follow strict social distancing and PPE protocols while helping residents come outside to watch the parade. At some locations, the parade was also visible through window views to senior adults residing in portions of the community’s independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing apartments.

“I am constantly in awe of the sacrifice each of our residents is making to help keep each other safe,” said David Sims, executive director at Buckner Westminster Place. “And I am beyond proud of every one of our associates, who continue to care for our residents. Senior living employees are on the frontline of our nation’s response to the pandemic, and every single one of them is a hero.”

The parades are one way friends and family members could show their support and love for seniors, as well as the frontline workers taking care of them.

In Longview, more than 80 cars participated in Buckner Westminster Place’s car parade, and the joy was undeniable and contagious. Smiles erupted from all who watched the exuberant procession.

You can show your support for seniors without ever leaving your home. Go gold for seniors and display a gold ribbon outside your home during the month of May and June to help increase awareness for senior living residents and the frontline workers caring for them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Buckner Launches Gold Ribbon Campaign in Support of Senior Living

Texans can show their support for senior adults and employees of senior living communities by displaying a gold ribbon outside their homes.

Buckner is going gold for senior living, and everyone is invited!

In order to increase awareness of senior living residents and the frontline workers caring for them during the COVID-19 pandemic, Buckner Retirement Services is launching a ribbon campaign titled Going Gold for Senior Living. Buckner has communities in Houston, Austin, Dallas, San Angelo, Longview and Beaumont, and residents of each city are encouraged to show their support of senior living communities by displaying a gold ribbon outside their homes during the months of May and June.

All six Buckner senior living communities across Texas hosted drive-thru ribbon pick-up events on Monday, May 11 for family members of residents and staff. Three to six-foot pieces of gold ribbon were distributed.

National campaigns such as Light it Blue have asked others to show support for healthcare workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, but healthcare workers is a broad category that includes hospitals, emergency responders, clinics, and senior living communities.

By launching the Going Gold for Senior Living campaign, Buckner is focusing specifically on the senior living workers – from nurses to dining services, maintenance, administration and more. Each of these jobs is integral in mitigating risk for residents.

Charlie Wilson, senior vice president of Buckner Retirement Services, said he is proud of the work and service by his staff, and thankful for the continuation of support from residents as social distancing measures continue.

“The health and safety of our staff and residents are of utmost importance to us,” said Wilson. “All of our associates are a shining example of what it means to be selfless and inspire happiness in the lives of senior adults. As one of the most vulnerable populations, our residents sacrifice family visits to help reduce risks for their neighbors. By displaying a gold ribbon outside your home, you can recognize the selfless actions and personal sacrifices made by senior living residents and staff.”

It is Wilson’s hope that other senior living communities and nursing facilities across Texas and the U.S. will join in the gold ribbon campaign.

“We are committed to generating awareness through the Going Gold Ribbon campaign across the state of Texas and nationally. Whether you have a family member or friend residing or working in a senior living community, or you just want to show your appreciation and support, we hope you’ll join us and go gold,” said Wilson.

All Buckner senior living communities have observed strict visitation restrictions since March 13, as well as thorough employee screening procedures. All protocols are consistent with guidelines and recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Buckner’s six communities include Buckner Villas in Austin, Parkway Place in Houston, Ventana by Buckner in Dallas, Calder Woods in Beaumont, Westminster Place in Longview, and Baptist Retirement Community in San Angelo.

Anyone who would like to support senior living communities is encouraged to purchase gold ribbon from local craft stores while following social distancing regulations and practicing personal hygiene when in public. Gold ribbon is also available through online retailers.

BRS Now Hiring

As cities and counties around Texas and the U.S. move to shelter-in-place policies to combat COVID-19, operations of non-essential businesses are limited. As a result, people in the hospitality industry are looking for temporary work, prompting Buckner Retirement Services to spread the word it is hiring.

Buckner is the largest faith-based nonprofit provider of senior living communities in Texas with communities in Austin, Houston, Dallas, Beaumont, San Angelo and Longview. All six communities are hiring.

There are open positions in the fields of culinary services, housekeeping, maintenance, wellness and nursing. “If you have hospitality industry or service industry experience, such as restaurants, schools, childcare, hotels, retail or healthcare, we want you to join our team,” said Brian Robbins, vice president of BRS.

An article by USA Today, reports that if the outbreak worsens, approximately 24% of employers plan to downsize beyond the temporary suspension of jobs.

Senior living communities are essential businesses because they care for one of the groups most vulnerable to COVID-19, senior adults. Communities like Buckner Villas in Austin and Calder Woods in Beaumont require around-the-clock staff to care for residents.

“Our teams at each Buckner community are heroes,” said Robbins, “And we want to continue to provide them the support they need in order to give our residents the best care possible. We need to make sure our employment in each community is at capacity so everyone has the opportunity to rest and recharge.”

Buckner is not just looking for temporary employees, Robbins said. “If someone comes to us from the restaurant industry and only wants to work with our dining teams for a couple of months until the world returns to normal, that’s fine. But I strongly hope people will consider the long-term career potential Buckner and the senior living industry offers.

“Whether you cook or serve food, maintain our facilities, clean rooms, or practice medicine, joining our team will provide you with a true mission and a passion for making a difference in the lives of our residents.”

In addition to utilizing job boards and Buckner social media pages, Robbins is turning to the news media to help alert Texans about Buckner job opportunities. He was interviewed by KXAN in Austin about the value of employment in senior living, as well as news stations in Longview and Beaumont.

Since the very beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Buckner has worked diligently to mitigate risks to staff and residents by following guidelines and policies outlined by the CDC, CMS and local and state government. This same caution and meticulousness will apply to job candidates, as preliminary interviews will be carried out through phone and video conferencing platforms, while in-person candidates will be tested and surveyed prior to entering the building. Some interviews may even happen outdoors, weather permitting.

For more information about Buckner Retirement Services, visit BucknerRetirement.org; for a list of job openings go to Buckner.org/Careers and search by community.

Coronavirus: Life Inside Our Senior Living Communities

To reduce the risks to the health and wellbeing of senior adults residing at our communities and minimize exposure to COVID-19, Buckner Retirement Services implemented a limited access visitation policy. However, we understand the concern and uncertainty the loved ones of our residents must be feeling.

We asked the leaders at our communities in Austin, Beaumont, Dallas, Houston, Longview and San Angelo to provide some insight into their residents’ wellbeing and what life is like as we work together to mitigate the risks associated with the coronavirus while continuing to inspire happiness in their lives.

What is the overall atmosphere like in the community? How is the morale of our senior adults?

“Our residents have been very positive about the steps we are taking to protect their health and safety. They have many questions, but they are valid concerns and questions that need consideration. We are taking the time to sit down and explain our measures on a one-to-one level as well as working to communicate to the whole community.”

– Linda Fitzhugh, Director of Resident Engagement, Parkway Place, Houston

“Most of our residents are understanding and supportive. Some are a bit apprehensive about the unusual circumstances, justifiably so, but we are doing everything possible to explain the reason for the changes and to ensure they are comfortable during the process. Overall, life within our walls is normal, as we are just trying to reduce the outside world coming in for now.”

– Paul Clark, Director of Marketing, Buckner Villas, Austin

“We are keeping everything upbeat and positive with a business-as-usual attitude, and the overall attitude of our residents is positive as a result. Many residents and family members are expressing their appreciation for the professional way we are watching out for them during a difficult time.”

– David Long, Director of Marketing, Calder Woods, Beaumont

“Our Members have been extremely understanding and appreciative of our efforts to keep the community safe. Most of them are media savvy, and they are not surprised by the decisions we’ve made in light of the news. They are calm and feel safe, and many have said they would rather be at Ventana than their former homes.”

– Chuck Childress, Executive Director, Ventana by Buckner, Dallas

“There has been an overall welcoming and appreciative response to the measures put in place. Our residents understand that the protocols were put in place to keep them healthy and safe.”

–Tammy Combs, Life Enrichment Coordinator, Westminster Place, Longview

Are residents continuing to socialize within the community or are they staying in their rooms?

“I have not noticed a change in the atmosphere. Our residents are going about their social day per usual while our staff ensures every precaution is taken to keep our common areas clean.”

– Katherine Wojtyna, Marketing Assistant, Parkway Place, Houston

“Residents are finding a balance between practicing safe social distancing while also making sure to still talk and laugh with each other and with our team members.”

– David Long, Director of Marketing, Calder Woods, Beaumont

How are residents staying connected with their friends and family during the limited access visitation policy?

“We are working to set up some technology stations to help people connect with family and friends through social media and video calling platforms like FaceTime and Skype.”

– David Long, Director of Marketing, Calder Woods, Beaumont

“Many of the residents are updating family through text messages and others enjoy talking on their cell phones using the speakerphone. Some use Facebook and keep in touch by looking at pictures posted by family members. One resident has a USB picture frame, and her son sends her family photos to load on her frame. It runs constantly.”

– Linda Fitzhugh, Director of Resident Engagement, Parkway Place, Houston

“Telephone calls seem to be the preferred way residents are communicating with their family and friends, but some are also using FaceTime capabilities on their phones or tablets as well as sending emails and texts.”

– Erin Kelly, Director of Marketing, Baptist Retirement Community, San Angelo

Has there been any change to community activities or groups?

“As a precaution, we canceled any of the activities led by volunteers from outside the community as well as group outings off campus like a luncheon and a trip to the Houston Holocaust Museum. As of March 14, we’ve also suspended in-house group activities while ensuring our residents have an abundance of individual options to keep them engaged.”

– Linda Fitzhugh, Director of Resident Engagement, Parkway Place, Houston

“We are working hard to keep life within the community as normal as possible, but for the safety of our residents, we have suspended our group activities and classes.”

– Paul Clark, Director of Marketing, Buckner Villas, Austin

Are the dining rooms and restaurants still operating normally? Are residents eating in the community areas?

“In order to mirror the policies implemented on a local, state and national level, our dining facilities are now delivering meals to our residents’ rooms.”

– Linda Fitzhugh, Director of Resident Engagement, Parkway Place, Houston

“Our dining team is hard at work to ensure residents have our full menu available to them in the comfort of their own rooms. It’s like a hotel.”

– Paul Clark, Director of Marketing, Buckner Villas, Austin

“Even before we had to update our dining policy and close the dining rooms, we noticed a shift in the number of residents opting to have their meals delivered to their apartments. It’s good to see that we are all on the same page when it comes to ensuring their health and safety is the number one priority.”

–Tammy Combs, Life Enrichment Coordinator, Westminster Place, Longview

What are the biggest changes you’ve noticed?

“Residents are communicating with staff and asking questions about protocols but staying calm and going about their usual business. The staff is here to answer all of their questions, and we are taking the time to be there for them and their families.”

– Katherine Wojtyna, Marketing Assistant, Parkway Place, Houston

“We are doing everything possible to increase our communication to residents and their family members so everyone is comfortable during an unusual time. This includes letters, emails, in-person discussions and townhall meetings.”

– Paul Clark, Director of Marketing, Buckner Villas, Austin

“The most noticeable change is obviously the lack of outside people on our campus due to our limitation policy. We are also screening all approved visitors, staff and vendors, and we’ve closed our thrift shop. Otherwise, it’s business as usual for our residents as we all work together to protect the community.”

– Erin Kelly, Director of Marketing, Baptist Retirement Community, San Angelo

“The biggest changes are on the operations side of things with how our team has prepared. I’m not seeing much change with our Members, which is a sign we are doing our jobs well.”

– Chuck Childress, Executive Director, Ventana by Buckner, Dallas

Limited Access Visitation Policy Effective 3/13/2020

For Immediate Release:

Buckner Retirement Services Implements Limited Access Visitation Policy

Temporary policy adheres to CMS guidelines and is effective March 13 at noon for Buckner Villas, Parkway Place, Ventana by Buckner, Calder Woods, Westminster Place and Baptist Retirement Community.

DALLAS (March 12, 2020) – Buckner Retirement Services will implement a limited access visitation policy as a safety measure against the rapid advance of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus. The limited access policy is effective Friday, March 13 at noon and will apply to BRS’s six communities, including Buckner Villas in Austin, Parkway Place in Houston, Ventana by Buckner in Dallas, Calder Woods in Beaumont, Westminster Place in Longview, and Baptist Retirement Community in San Angelo.

The temporary visitation policy follows guidelines proved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. They include the limitation of visitors within the communities except for end-of-life situations or when a visitor is essential for the resident’s emotional well-being and care.

To read the full CMS guidelines, click here.

BRS employees began notifying residents and resident family members regarding the new guidelines on Wednesday, March 11 via in-person conversations, phone calls, printed letters, emails and the community website and Facebook pages.

“We are aware that this limited access poses an inconvenience to our residents and their friends and family, but we are committed to doing everything reasonably possible to protect our residents and the Buckner team members who work at our communities. This decision was not taken lightly, however, we believe it is in the best interests of everyone,” said Charlie Wilson, senior vice president of Buckner Retirement Services.

When visitors meeting the approved criteria come to any BRS community, they will have their temperature taken and asked screening questions about their current health condition and recent travel as a further level of protection for residents and staff.

Once the limited access policy takes effect on March 13, BRS team members under the direction of the community’s executive director will be available to assist residents with any needs normally taken care of by visitors.

Communication with its residents and team members is a priority for BRS. Leadership continues to monitor the situation regarding coronavirus and is working to continually educate residents and staff regarding guidelines issued by the Texas Health and Human Services and the Center for Disease Control.

Specifically, Buckner Retirement Services is:

  1. Activating its Emergency Preparedness and Operations teams at each of the six campuses and holding a regular conference call with the teams from the six campuses. This process includes coordinating with local first responders and health care facilities in case emergency response for a resident or staff is necessary.
  2. Reviewing the Emergency Preparedness Manual and re-educating staff about infectious disease policies and procedures.
  3. Reviewing the BRS infection control protocol, inventorying supplies, and preparing employees through information and education.
  4. Launching a communications campaign internally for all stakeholders, including signs and posters in all communities. These safety-themed posters contain specific information about stopping the spread of germs and viruses.
  5. Directing staff exhibiting signs of sickness to stay home.
  6. Communicating with residents and family members that Buckner is taking this seriously and that we are taking every reasonable precaution.

“These extraordinary measures are intended to protect all of us,” said Wilson. “We will re-evaluate this limited access policy regularly and notify our residents immediately of any changes.”


About Buckner Retirement Services, Inc.:

Buckner Retirement Services is a nonprofit senior living organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for senior adults and their families by promoting an active, healthy lifestyle while maintaining their independence and dignity. Buckner Retirement Services is part of Buckner International, a global faith-based ministry serving more than 350,000 people each year in Texas and six countries worldwide. For more information, visit BucknerRetirement.org.

Information Contact:

Christopher Ruth

Director of Media Relations

Buckner International

630-536-9139 (cell)


Ventana by Buckner® Opens Assisted Living and Memory Care for Admissions

Senior adults requiring help with the activities of daily living or memory care may now reside at Dallas’ 1st high-rise Life Care retirement community.

DALLAS (Jan. 16, 2020) – Assisted Living and Memory Care residences within Ventana by Buckner® are now open after being licensed by the state of Texas. Senior adults requiring more personalized, supportive care for their physical needs will find it living in The Arbors, while those experiencing memory issues, dementia or Alzheimer’s may now reside in Garden View.

“Although our Members began moving into Ventana’s amazing residences last year, it is the opening of Assisted Living and Memory Care which demonstrates the versatility of Ventana to serve seniors with exceptional levels of care regardless of their needs,” said Chuck Childress, executive director of Ventana by Buckner.

The Arbors, Ventana’s Assisted Living, offers individualized assistance with daily activities for Members residing in private and comfortable one- and two-bedroom assisted living apartments. Licensed practical nurses and experienced caregivers provide 24-hour care, as well as medication assistance, emergency response aid, wellness programs and more.

Memory Care at Ventana is a special kind of care for varying degrees of dementia or Alzheimer’s symptoms. It involves creating a structured environment that has set schedules and routines in place to create a stress-free lifestyle, safety features to ensure the health of Members residing in Garden View’s private rooms and spacious common areas. Members will also have access to programs designed to cultivate and maintain cognitive skills.

Paula Woodbury recently helped her father, Maxey Abernathy move into Garden View, while her mother, Carole Jean, resides in an independent living apartment. “Memory Care at Ventana is remarkable,” said Woodbury. “The facilities, services and amenities are beyond anything we’ve seen, but it is the staff that truly sets Ventana apart. They take care of my father like he is their own family. They treat him with dignity and keep him engaged in a myriad of stimulating activities. Placing your loved one in Memory Care is not easy, but knowing he is loved and safe at Ventana made that decision easier.”

In addition to having the ability to move directly into residences in Independent Living, Assisted Living or Memory Care based on need, Members also have the option to move between the areas of care as their needs change. “By making the smart choice to buy into Life Care, Ventana Members have access to private accommodations in Assisted Living and Memory at predictable rates over the course of their lifetime,” said Childress.

Ventana is Dallas’ first and only luxury high-rise Life Care retirement community. Life Care continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), also referred to as a Type A contract CCRC, are the most comprehensive of all contracts. The Life Care benefit covers the cost of independent living, while also providing the assurance of higher levels of care, such as assisted living, memory care, rehabilitation or skilled nursing.

Ventana features adjacent 12-story towers which house 189 independent living residences ranging from 950 to 2,000 square feet. Also included within Ventana’s vertical living community are 38 assisted living residences, 48 nursing apartments, 26 memory care residences and 24 rehab suites. The community includes the full continuum of care for senior adults with assisted living, nursing care, memory care and a rehabilitation component.

The convenience of vertical living means Ventana members are seldom more than a few steps from its numerous amenities, which include valet and underground parking, multiple dining venues and lounges, spacious common areas, modern wellness and fitness centers, heated indoor pool, salon and spa, movie theater, rooftop garden terrace, multiple patios, and more.

Ventana by Buckner is located at 8301 N. Central Expressway. For more information about Ventana by Buckner, visit VentanaByBuckner.com.


About Buckner Retirement Services:
Buckner Retirement Services, Inc. is one of the largest not-for-profit senior living organizations in Texas dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for senior adults and their families by promoting an active, healthy Christian lifestyle while maintaining their independence and dignity. Buckner Retirement Services is part of Buckner International, a global faith-based ministry serving more than 350,000 people each year in Texas and six countries worldwide. Learn more about Buckner Retirement Services at BucknerRetirement.org.

Information Contact:

Christopher Ruth
Director of Media Relations
Buckner International
630-536-9139 (cell)

MLB Player Jose Altuve shows woman his family

Astros’ José Altuve Visits 100-Year-Old Resident of Buckner Parkway Place

Buckner Parkway Place resident Shirley Clark celebrated her 100th birthday this week and received a special surprise birthday present: A visit with Houston Astros’ José Altuve.

As a die-hard baseball and Astros fan, Shirley was shocked and excited to see one of her favorite baseball players walk through the door to wish her a happy birthday.Prior to living in Houston, Shirley and her late husband, Charles, worked as missionaries, which included more than 30 years in Venezuela. She fondly recalls her time there ministering to those in need and forming lifelong bonds with some of her best friends. One of her favorite memories was watching Venezuelan children play baseball in the street with a homemade ball and broomstick.

Because of those treasured memories, Shirley’s favorite players on the Astros are Venezuela natives José Altuve and Robinson Chirinos. She watches as many games as she can, whether at the stadium or on TV, and her friends at Parkway Place know to come to Shirley for scores and stats from the previous night.

News of Shirley’s birthday and her status as a superfan reached Altuve, who was especially touched by her work as a missionary for more than 30 years in his home country of Venezuela. Altuve surprised Shirley in her home and gave her an autographed baseball as a birthday gift.

Conversing in both English and Spanish, Altuve and Shirley talked about her time living in Venezuela and what it was like for Altuve growing up there. She introduced him to some of her children in town for her birthday, and Altuve even did a video call with his wife and daughter so they could wish Shirley a happy birthday as well. When their conversation turned to the Astros, Shirely showed off her knowledge of player stats.

Enjoying life, eating right and staying active are what Shirley credits as her keys to a long life – that and getting out to the ballpark whenever possible.

Earlier in the year, Shirley was one of 14 Parkway Place residents that posed for portraits by photographer Mark Sandlin as part of the community’s new campaign, “Life, Experienced.” The campaign captures the varied interests and passions of residents, which is why Shirley decked herself out in her Astros apparel and modeled in front of the Astros’ Minute Maid Park.


Workforce Solutions and Baptist Retirement Community Partner to Provide CNA Certification Courses and Training for San Angelo CNAs

Wanting to provide certified nursing aid (CNA) certification courses and quality, hands-on training for aspiring CNA’s in San Angelo, Baptist Retirement Community (BRC), a continuing care retirement community in the Concho Valley, is partnering with Workforce Solutions to provide these educational opportunities three to four times a year. The pass-rate for these classes is exceptional, as every student has graduated. In recognition of the community’s efforts, BRC was nominated for the “Local Employer Service Award” and for “Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) 2019 Small Employer of the Year.” Mary Jackson, director of human resources for Baptist Retirement Community, has facilitated the relationship throughout her career of more than two decades.

“Providing these classes allows us to offer quality training to those interested in pursuing careers in the medical field, and many of our students use this as a stepping-stone to get into nursing programs,” said Jackson. “The classes also allow us the opportunity to let students know of open positions within our organization, and we hire approximately one-third of the students that go through each class. Even if they choose to work someplace else after receiving their certification, we hope that they might be inclined to join our team in the future. Through the clinicals and learning environment, we enjoy showing students how positive and supportive the work environment and team at Baptist Retirement Community is.”

The second course wrapped up in June, and the third course began on August 5. The courses are three weeks long and cover classroom and lab skills from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during the first two weeks, followed by clinicals in the third week. Clinicals consist of three 12-hour days of hands-on experience shadowing CNA’s and serving residents in different capacities. The program is made possible by the Texas Talent Connection Grant. Baptist Retirement Community contributes by providing the space and instructor(s) for the course. Workforce Solutions has a team member who is dedicated to recruiting students before the courses start. One of the community’s recent new hires, Kevin Lord, learned of the opportunity through Workforce Solutions, completed his training in June and started his first day at BRC on July 1.

“My family has served in the medical field for a long time, and I was ready to try it out after working in the mechanic field for 10 years,” said Lord. “I was not sure where I was going to apply after getting my certification, but I ultimately fell in love with the work environment and residents at Baptist Retirement Community. The team at BRC is supportive and friendly. Everyone loves their job and walks around with smiles on their faces. During my clinicals, I got to interact with residents and found that their personalities are amazing. The three I worked hands-on with are the main reason I chose to work at BRC. Seeing the compassion that the team had for these residents also made me want to be a part of the team. It is a unique work environment that I did not want to pass up. I knew I wanted to work alongside these health care professionals every day and be here for these residents. I value delivering care with the dignity and respect these residents deserve. I am grateful for the CNA certification course, because, without it, I would not have gotten my training and learned of what awaited me at Baptist Retirement Community.”

“All of the students are very appreciative and feel the course adequately prepares them for their new role as a CNA,” said Jackson. “We have done several projects with Workforce Solutions over the years, and we greatly appreciate the partnership. Overall, working with Workforce Solutions is positive and supportive. We bounce ideas back and forth to come up with amazing opportunities that enhance people’s lives. Our goals are to provide quality training that helps people gain experience and get back into the workforce. We are both willing to try new things, and it is very rewarding to do so.”

Baptist Retirement Community also offers a summer internship program where they take in four students and teach them skills pertaining to maintenance, housekeeping, life enrichment activities for residents and clerical/admin. The senior living community also offers positions to people who need to gain experience in a certain area or have been out of the workforce for a while.

If you are interested in covering this story or setting up an interview, please contact Lauren Witt via phone at 214-378-7970 ext. 306 or email at: lwitt@thepointgroup.com”.

Residents of Buckner Westminster Place pack snacks for local students

With the school year underway, local students are busy heading to class and after-school activities. However, there are many who return home on the weekends with little to no access to regular meals. Residents at Buckner Westminster Place want to change that for the Longview community.

Twice a month throughout the school year, the residents of the senior living community gather together to prepare 50 snack packs filled with food and treats like macaroni and cheese, oatmeal, cheese crackers, apple juice and pudding that are then distributed to students of South Ward Elementary.

“This is our fourth school year to participate in the snack pack program, and it’s something that residents are always eager to join,” said Bob Webster, a resident at Buckner Westminster Place. “We’re always looking for ways to give back to the greater community, and this is an opportunity that enables our senior community to support local children and ensure their needs are met. By providing these snack packs, we know students are going home on the weekend with something to eat and won’t go hungry.”

The program began in 2012 while Melanie Wright was volunteering with Buckner Children and Family Services as part of the organization’s summer feeding program. Through the summer program, Melanie contemplated what could be done throughout the year to ensure they were continuing to meet the needs of these children all year long.

“It’s incredibly important to serve our local community and help these kids get the nutrition they need,” Melanie said. “Through this program, we’re able to show them a little extra bit of love and kindness they may not experience otherwise. We also want them to know that their community cares about them and wants them to be happy. It’s a joy to see how much the residents at Westminster Place love doing this and it’s really a win-win for everyone.”

“At Buckner Westminster Place, we believe in the importance of community and doing what we can to support one another,” said David Sims, executive director of Buckner Westminster Place. “We’re honored to have the opportunity to support local students and ensure they have everything they need to be successful, and that includes access to a meal. We hope that by sharing our involvement in the snack pack program that we can shed light on the issue of hunger in our community and inspire others to find ways they can give back.”

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