Like all the best homes, Sunrise communities are full of vibrant life and constant activity. This is thanks to Sunrise activities teams, who use creative programming to shape meaningful days for every resident.
Whether it’s peaceful harp therapy or a lively exercise class, activities enable residents to enrich their minds, bodies, and spirits.
Jamie Murphy is the activities and volunteer coordinator at Sunrise of Crystal Lake, located just outside of Chicago. She’s been a team member in various roles for 18 years. As an AVC, she’s seen countless lives transformed—hers included.
“No one can even imagine how I feel after a day’s work at Sunrise of Crystal Lake, except others who share the love for what we do here and the AVC position,” says Jamie. “When I come in after my two days off, and the first ladies I see having coffee in the bistro say, ‘We missed you so much, it’s not the same without you!’ the feeling I get from that is something that just can’t be explained.”
Jamie has had countless special experiences at Sunrise, and they all began in one simple way: building relationships with residents.
One resident, for example, had pictures in his room of a group of men singing. When Jamie talked to him, he told her that he had loved participating in a barbershop quartet for most of his adult life. But a stroke had robbed him of the ability to sing.
Jamie set out to rekindle the same joy that was so evident in the pictures. One Sunday, she took the resident on a road trip to watch his old singing group practice.
“But not only did he watch,” Jamie said, “His quartet buddies lifted him up on stage to sing with them!”
“He and his buddies had tears dripping down their faces,” she continued. “It was like witnessing a miracle. He never forgot that day.”
In addition to rediscovering old passions, thoughtful programming can unearth previously unknown talents. Jamie found out that one memory care resident’s career had been in drawing blueprints. She gave him a pencil and paper, and he began designing masterful pictures of animals by measuring and placing dots all over the paper.
“This new discovery of talent was beyond words,” said Jamie. “He was often agitated, but he would sometimes sit for two hours drawing until he reached perfection. When he was gone, his son had many of his drawings to keep, which were more special to him than we could ever imagine.”
Another resident used to be a seamstress who loved making beautiful wedding gowns, but she hadn’t practiced in over 30 years due to arthritis and age. Jamie invited her to come roll the yarn at sewing class, and after watching the other residents, she picked up the needle and began to sew once again. Now, she’s making blankets for the local animal shelter.
“Her daughter was so happy, like ‘oh my goodness, my mom is sewing again?’” said Jamie.
These are just a few examples of the many ways that personalized programming can enrich residents’ lives.
“Sometimes, I think of something so wonderful that happened on any given day, and I just smile,” she says. “We AVCs are so lucky to have a job like this—it has made a difference in my life as well as the lives of our seniors.”
Every Sunrise community is filled with similar stories of discovery, action, and joy. Visit our Programming & Activities page to see our Live With Purpose programs in action!