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Ask Karen Schwartz, Baptist Home of Kenmare administrator, about the facility’s best qualities, and one of the first things she’ll say is that the staff members offer high quality service, regardless of the circumstances. “You have to be flexible to work here,” she said. “No two days are ever alike.”
That flexibility is demonstrated by everyone from the newest aide to Schwartz herself, who filled the role of cook for a few days last week even as she was planning the final touches for the Baptist Home’s 50th anniversary celebration. Those plans included changing the location of the party, program and meal from the Baptist Home to the Kenmare Memorial Hall because of the temperamental weather this spring.
“We couldn’t even set a picnic table on the lawn or it would sink in the wet ground,” Schwartz said, laughing.
The anniversary party still promises to be a festive occasion for the public and Baptist Home residents alike. The fun begins at 4 pm with a performance by the Palermo Pickers, with memorabilia and photo displays from the Baptist Home on exhibit.
A short program follows at 5 pm, including a slide show highlighting past and current residents, staff and activities. Jeff Amann, vice president of operations for the American Baptist Homes of the Midwest in
Everyone is welcome to stay for supper. The menu features a pig roasted by Gordie Feldman of Kenmare on the menu, served with all the trimmings.
Quality care in a social setting
Schwartz started working in the business office at the Baptist Home in 1999 and took the administrator’s job in September 2001. “I’m proud of the service we give to the community and our residents,” she said.
Those residents currently number 26, ranging in age from 58 to 99.
Schwartz described the Baptist Home as following a social model for the residents rather than a medical model, with both assisted living and basic care services available.
“[Moving to the Baptist Home] is a change in life for people,” she said. “We strive to keep our residents happy and keep their lives full. We encourage their personal hobbies, being members of different organizations, and sharing the Third Floor Activity Room with outside groups to use our building and come see what we’re doing here.”
The Baptist Home staff also takes the residents out--to stores, appointments and events in Kenmare. “We get the residents out in the community, so they get to see what we see,” said Schwartz. “And we think it’s important just to have someone to visit with at mealtimes or to talk to other times during the day.”
Intergenerational relationships are encouraged, with the Baptist Home hosting kids for a variety of activities, performances and even pen pal visits. “Our residents have been to school in Bowbells and Kenmare to visit their pen pals there,” Schwartz said.
Of course, transporting the residents around town and participating in various activities takes financial support, and Schwartz expressed her gratitude for the generous gifts the Baptist Home receives for such purposes.
“We have good support from grants, the Kenmare Veteran’s Club and the Northwest Health Care Foundation,” she said, “and we receive many memorials. All of that is used locally to enhance the lives of our residents.”
Visitors at the Baptist Home’s 50th Anniversary party are welcome to support the residents’ activities and projects by purchasing a dozen or two--or 10--of the facility’s famous doughnuts. The doughnuts have been baked by staff and sold as a fund-raiser for the past few years.
“We’ve got making these down to a fine art now,” Schwartz said. “We can turn out 200 dozen in less than three hours.”
The Baptist Home Auxiliary sold 104 dozen of the doughnuts at the Citywide Rummage Sale, and Schwartz said fresh doughnuts will be available at the Pioneer Village’s Pioneer Day in Kenmare on July 10th. “We’re always taking donations for different projects,” she said, adding that a concrete slab was just poured and a set of outdoor furniture purchased with doughnut money and other contributions to create a patio area for residents near the Assisted Living entrance. “Now, we’re working to buy a second bus or a van with a lift for smaller groups.”
Meeting increased expenses and maintaining an aging building is a challenge for the Baptist Home staff. Schwartz said the 26 employees work as a team, though, joining in tasks and projects that may not be included in their regular job descriptions. Through it all, they keep up their own smiles and focus on the residents and their care. “The residents and their families are our top priority,” said Schwartz.
The staff at the Baptist Home emphasizes a family-like atmosphere. “The residents become part of our family and we become part of theirs,” Schwartz said. “We come to know them personally, and everybody looks out for each other.”
She continued, “The rewards come from the twinkles in their eyes or the hugs or smiles they give us, when the families thank us, and when we hear the positive comments out in the community.”
Schwartz extended an invitation to area residents and family members of the Baptist Home residents to stop by anytime for a cup of coffee or to join in one of the daily activities, which could include video, card or board games, exercise routines, movies, karaoke or a field trip. “Things have changed in 50 years,” she said, then laughed. “Things have changed in the last 10 years! Come see us.”
As a proactive and flexible administrator, Schwartz is already looking ahead to the next decade. She anticipates more changes will be necessary for the Baptist Home to remain a vital element in the Kenmare community.
“The needs change with each generation, and you have to be able to serve those generations,” she said. “For the Baby Boomers going forward, the challenge is to be prepared for what their expectations will be.”
Before she starts working on that project, however, Schwartz will concentrate her efforts on celebrating the Baptist Home’s 50th anniversary with the community and Baptist Home residents who make this 50th year possible. Join the fun on June 16th!
Baptist Home of Kenmare Assisted Living Units