As we celebrate Florida Presbyterian Homes’ 60th year, we asked questions of three dedicated employees. This month we have responses from Rick Powers, Director of Environmental Services. Rick has been here 26 years. Maria English, Assisted Living, Certified Nursing Assistant has been an employee for 25 years. Maria Rivera, RN, Administrator, has been employed at FPH for 23 years. Thank you for your faithful commitment to many residents and to each other.
What do you remember about your first day?
Rick: “Bob Carlson was the foreman, and he introduced me to the department heads. Two people stood out – Dene Woods and Russell Owens. Bob was explaining the Monte Johnson health center, the whole time I was thinking I will never learn this campus! That was before we bought Lakeside Court.”
Maria English: “The Director of Nursing walked with me and took me on a tour of the Assisted Living and the apartment area. She introduced me to everyone; it made me feel special – and I am!”
Maria Rivera: “My hire date was Feb. 18, 1992 at Presbyterian Nursing Center (PNC). My husband and I had left our jobs and moved from NYC into our first home in August of 1991 with three sons under the age of 6. I recall the shock during my interview at Lakeland Regional Medical Center when I was told my recent work for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NY was not considered as clinical experience. I was told to try a smaller hospital or a nursing home. Once again I was shocked; however this time, because I was immediately hired when I interviewed at PNC. Needless to say I was very happy and felt very welcomed on my first day.”
What would you say was your funniest event or activity?
Rick: “FPH bowling every Wednesday night at Interstate Bowling Lanes. I remember how sore I was the next day, but the interaction with other departments and learning about each other was great. Canoe trips down the Alafia River, tubing down the Ichetucknee River with John Hehn, and the Christmas party off campus with Tom Brown, Jan McConn, Bill Read, Ruben Crowe and Linda Bryant. We rented a hall and had a Christmas party after hours.”
Maria English: “Halloween – I involved the residents; they helped me dress up. They contributed a wig, dress, socks, shoes, hat, gloves and pillows. It was so much fun. Even better, I won that year for the funniest costume. The residents that helped me were so proud of themselves.”
Maria Rivera: “My funniest event was the overnight staff retreats at Cedarkirk. We learned so much about each other’s personalities after our workday ended: i.e. who was scared of bugs or sleeping alone. I also learned that Presbyterians drank wine! Reverend Mahwinney left to buy a corkscrew when they realized no one had one.”
Share a favorite day or memory.
Rick: “The Executive staff sent four maintenance staff to a Presbyterian Church in the Miami area to help with the Hurricane Andrew recovery. We stayed there and helped to dry-in houses, board windows, cut trees, etc. for a week.”
Maria English: “Every day I watched one of the residents gather flowers for his beloved wife. Even after her death he would put a fresh flower beside her picture.”
Maria Rivera: “My favorite memory was VBS and teaching the four hour Alzheimer’s class to new employees with LaDonna Scruggs. Another fond memory was the opportunity to pray with or for someone on their deathbed.”
Rick: “Getting to know the residents, their histories and careers. There were judges, lawyers and doctors and a woman who wrote stories for “The Lone Ranger.” Knowing them was meaningful to me. Rose Frary always called me her little ‘Machinguena’ and I remember LaDonna Scruggs teaching her gerontology class. I’ve learned a lot.”
Maria English: “Hearing amazing stories from residents and sharing in their lives. It has been a privilege to be a part of the Florida Presbyterian Homes family.”
Maria Rivera: “I have been very blessed and feel that this is a divine appointment by God. Every time I thought a door was closing, there was actually another door God wanted me to pass through. I am glad I obeyed and grateful to serve the residents and staff at Florida Presbyterian Homes.”