Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Veteran Voices from LifeBio: Walter Allsop's Story

By Walter Allsop, Claremont Manor Retirement Community

My name is Walter Allsop, and I was born in 1928. I served in the Navy as a Seaman 1st Class on the Aircraft Carrier USS Valley Forge CV-45.  


I had graduated high school mid-term, and I was working part-time in a machine shop and also delivering by motor scooter for a drug store. I chose to enlist because I wanted to be in the Navy, mainly because my father had been. Older friends from school felt the Navy had been the best choice for them, as well, so in April of 1946, I enlisted in Los Angeles. My parents took me to the “Enlistment Ceremony" at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, which had a large class. From there, we were bussed to the San Diego Naval Base for training.

Boot camp and training sure was a new way of life for me! Every day was different, but always regulated. We were tested for water safety, up early, and participated in military drilling. I had a short haircut, which led to sunburn on my nose and ears. I missed home and my girlfriend, Mary. I also missed my car, which I had given to my brother. The food was plain, and some days better than others, but we had little choice. The barracks and routines were preparing us for military life. There were no weekend passes until toward the end of training.

Finally, the long hours of basic training ended. We left by train for Rhode Island (by way of Mexico and Canada). There was no travel priority for a troop train, and it took almost a week. There were no showers or bunks, and the food was brought aboard on certain stops.

Everything was new to me on the East Coast. I felt the "Petty Officers" in the First Division were fair and reasonable, resulting in a "tight-knit" group, and I made lasting friends. We went to New York many times on "leave" from Philadelphia. We saw the Empire State Building, Ellis Island, and much more. Often at the movies, there would be entertainers on stage, such as Billie Holiday.

An amusing incident comes to mind. Several of our group were returning to the ship from a "Night on the town." One of our group wanted to bring liquor on board with him, which was strictly against the rules. Bradley was ordered to throw the bottle overboard. He quickly removed one of his new shoes and threw it over. The officer on duty didn't see the shoe go, but heard the splash. He took it to be the liquor.

While waiting for the Valley Forge CV-45 to be commissioned, I had three weeks of leave, and I sent for Mary to come to Philadelphia, where we were married. After our wedding, we stayed in Philadelphia. We often had friends from the ship visit us to play cards and join us for dinner. My friends were as anxious to start the cruise as I was.

Once underway, I was so impressed to be onboard this huge carrier as we went through the docks! I had been trained in firing the 5" cannons in the “Gun Tubs,” which needed to be removed for passage. We were on the way to San Diego. As soon as we got there, I was taken off the ship and sent to Balboa Naval Hospital where I had surgery on my knee. It wasn’t long until I was aboard the next ship leaving San Diego for Hawaii to rejoin my crew. Arriving in Hawaii, I could see ships that were sunk in the bay, and there was much destruction. From there, our ship was soon headed for the Panama Canal.

I wrote many letters home to my parents and Mary. I gave them much information about the Valley Forge maiden cruise: a good will cruise around the world. There have been three Valley Forge Aircraft Carriers. I have a "plank" from the flight deck of the original ship that I was on. 

I was discharged in February of 1948 at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Alameda, California. I flew home from Hawaii to San Francisco for it. Mary had found an apartment; and there was so much to do: start school, work, and family. After I left the service, I returned to work at the machine shop. I entered John Muir College, graduated, and applied to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, and was accepted. I applied to USC, using the GI Bill of Rights, and I stayed in college until I received my master's degree. 

Mary and I went on to have two daughters, and now we have eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren!

-Walter Allsop, Claremont Manor Retirement Community

LifeBio is an engagement program that captures cherished memories and lasting legacies through storytelling. Since launching in 2000, LifeBio has helped 20,000 people tell their life stories through autobiographical tools and services for all levels of care. LifeBio uses technologies as mediums to help individual document their stories in an easy and unique way such as tablets, web cams, and audio and video equipment. LifeBio has been a partner with Front Porch since 2009. For more details, check out LifeBio’s Impact Story on the Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing (FPCIW) website.



 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Fresh Ideas: Innovation and Collaboration in Action

Fresh - new, additional, further, invigorating, newly created, harvested, bold, cool. These are powerful, inspiring words not to be taken lightly. This is why at Front Porch we call our annual program Humanly Possible® “Fresh Ideas.

The Humanly Possible® “Fresh Ideas” Action Projects begin by gathering each mind in each department throughout the entire organization to brainstorm how to improve our services to those we serve inside or outside our communities. Themes vary by year. The focus for 2017 action projects was to “inspire engagement to those we serve inside or outside our communities.”

From the Front Porch Humanly Possible® handbook …

“Today, more than ever, we need every mind, every discipline, every level of our company working together on what’s possible, what’s achievable, and what’s next. Because, no matter the job title or department, each person is a wellspring of experience, insight and possibility— and a crucial contributor to every challenge and opportunity we confront and embrace.”

“Fresh Ideas” empowers our greatest resource – our people – and builds upon the innovative spirit that has long existed through out Front Porch. When everyone has a voice in giving ideas and choosing an idea, support, buy-in and excitement occurs.

“Fresh Ideas' encourages us to come up with solutions,” said Paulina Zarzuela, an LVN at Kingsley Manor. “We come up with unique and different ideas to help residents and employees.”


After getting feedback from meaningful conversations with a sampling of those who may have a stake in or be affected by the project, each department’s project is put into action. In 2017, Front Porch departments created 53 “Fresh Ideas” action projects.

“Fresh Ideas” are more than just implementing a project. “Fresh Ideas” are about collaborating, sharing and learning from one another. “Fresh Ideas” projects have potential to bubble-up and expand by being replicated in another department or at other Front Porch communities.


Built into the process is providing multiple venues for the “Fresh Ideas” to be shared. Each community holds a “community share” where all staff and residents can see displays about each of the projects and makes inquiries. Department teams and residents learn what other teams worked on and what the motivation was for their “Fresh Idea.” At the Carlsbad By The Sea community share, residents learned how the housekeeping team began a creative and informative way to introduce new residents to each housekeeping team member. Each team member completes an information card with his or her name, where her or she is from, how long he or she has been at Carlsbad By The Sea and his or her “heartfelt why” they do what they do. All cards are displayed together like a family tree in the hallway by the housekeeping office. A new resident receives a copy of the card with his or her assigned housekeeper. 

At the Walnut Village “community share” residents learned how the dining room partnered with the church next door to help feed low-income families within the outside community. Staff at Walnut Village cook, transfer and serve lunch to 40-80 people at the church monthly.

At the Sunny View “community share” residents learned how the maintenance department, to improve work order communication, started using door hangers with “Work in Progress” on one side and a service log on the other side.

As a culmination, Front Porch hosts a “regional share” event where representatives from each Front Porch department gathers to share its “Fresh Ideas” with one another. Presenters and participants include team members from all parts of the organization, including cooks, directors, housekeepers, presidents, transportation coordinators and CNAs. Frequently the presenter is a team member who helped implement the “Fresh Idea” and may have even come up with it. That ownership, pride and enthusiasm emulates through them and becomes contagious. 

Some of the “Fresh Ideas” community team members learned about included …

The Claremont Manor dining room team hosting a food show for residents with 30 different items to sample from food vendors. “This proved such a success with our residents that we plan to have this as an annual event,” said Wayne Scott, dining services director at Claremont Manor.

The Front Porch Home Office finance team provided its services of free gift wrapping for the
residents for the holidays. One December afternoon, the team visited Kingsley Manor with all supplies for a wrapping station. Residents brought gifts to be wrapped, and the team also picked-up and delivered the wrapped items back to some residents’ accommodations. “Residents appreciated the gift wrapping assistance and continue to talk about the joy of interacting with the Home Office team members,” said Lexie Alexander, director of resident services at Kingsley Manor. The residents who didn’t receive wrapping assistance still enjoyed the cheerful visit during the holidays.

Bold, new and cool projects are all around but more importantly, presenters talked about how inspiring projects were and how much fun they had implementing them. High-fives literally all around at the “regional share.”

The “regional share” involves more than celebration and a notepad filled with inspiring ideas. At Front Porch, We Take Action!

The “regional share” concluded with each community gathering together to commit to bringing back a new “Fresh Idea” to its own community. Huddled together each team member shared his or her top three and why they could be a good match for his or her community. Debates, discussions and voting occurred to choose one “Fresh Idea” to commit to. Each community stood up to proclaim the “Fresh Idea” that it would take back to bloom at its community - as imitation is the highest form of flattery. 


Some of the “Fresh Ideas” chosen to imitate and bubble up through Front Porch included …

Carlsbad By The Sea’s “happy stairwell.” Ignited by residents’ requests to have more interesting stairwells, Carlsbad collected inspirational quotes from residents to enliven the stairwell. Ashley Parker, a driver at Carlsbad By The Sea, shared, “Implementing the ‘happy stairwell’ resulted in residents and staff using the stairwells more often. A nice bonus for getting some steps in.”

Walnut Village’s “non-contact boxing” was targeted for residents with Parkinson’s disease but open to all. Initiated by Emmanuel Solis, a Wellbeing Coach at Walnut Village and a boxer himself, boxing workouts improve balance, improve hand-eye coordination and decrease reaction time; a perfect fit and meaningful for residents with Parkinson’s disease. “All we had to do was purchase boxing gloves and hit mitts. Let’s just say it’s been a ‘hit’ with the residents,” said Ryan Fillingane, wellbeing director at Walnut Village.

Kingsley Manor Care Center’s “music in the shower” for care center residents who have anxiety when bathing. A “Fresh Idea” inspired by a CNA involving the life enrichment team, CNAs and residents collaborating to create individualized playlists for each resident in the Care Center. Using a digital music player and a waterproof carrier and speaker, residents can listen to their favorite songs while bathing. As Ripsime Janikyan, director of social
services, admissions and marketing at Kingsley Manor Care Center, shared, “The individualized music helps residents remain calm. We have seen a huge difference in our residents.” Ripsime continued, “A long-term resident who had high anxiety when bathing now talks about her childhood and how her mom used to always sing the song to her.” 

As per the Front Porch Humanly Possible® handbook, “The world today is filled with zillions of mindboggling examples of our collective ingenuity and perseverance. And almost every discovery, invention, development and advance began with a ‘what if’ moment—a glimpse into what could be … It is up to us to see these challenges as opportunities, and rise to the occasion.”  

“Fresh Ideas” brings a breath of fresh air to Front Porch. The possibilities, those “what-if” moments, are limitless. “Fresh Ideas” provide energy, excitement, vigor to team members, but the true gift is improving the daily lives of the remarkable people we are honored to serve.

 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Mom’s Lesson: Balance in the Checkbook of Life

Solace for this writer when she and her husband fell on hard times
By
Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell for Next Avenue


I’m spring cleaning my office and desk when I come across my mother’s checkbook in one of my drawers. Mom’s been gone over a decade. The account is long closed and I’m in purging mode, so I contemplate putting the checkbook in the shredder.

But I can’t seem to let go of this meaningful memento of her once-ordinary life because of the vital lesson it symbolizes for me.


Buying Gifts for the Family

A cartoon caricature of an older woman smiles from the checkbook cover as a bubble over

her head exclaims: “Stop me before I shop again!” I smile, remembering how my mom loved to shop, especially for gifts for her family.

A widow on a modest pension that she received due to my dad’s career working on the railroad, Mom began shopping for the next Christmas year as soon as the current one was over — always seeking out bargains for the perfect presents. This was the only way she could afford to buy for her three adult daughters and our extended families. We begged her to stop buying presents, but it was the thing that gave her the greatest pleasure.

Mom was meticulous about balancing their checkbook, always making sure it had $50 extra that wasn’t counted in the balance — just in case.

Mom maintained the household finances and was meticulous about balancing their checkbook, always making sure it had $50 extra that wasn’t counted in the balance — just in case.

My dad passed away in 1981 at 58, just as my parents were about to enjoy more financial comfort with an empty nest. At 64, Mom went to work as a pharmacy cashier, where she was able to earn enough to maintain her own apartment and independence. After she began drawing the Railroad Retirement pension, Mom continued working as long as she could, using that “extra” income to buy gifts and indulge in her hobbies, weekly hair appointments and an occasional new outfit.


The Genie in the Bottle

So now, to us.

My husband, Dale, and I grew up in the same working-class neighborhood. We were both taught a strong work ethic and that the most important thing we have in life is our good name. We were cautioned not to ruin it by getting into debt we couldn’t handle. This philosophy worked well for us — until the Great Recession.Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell and her mom

That’s when Dale was laid off from his job as a diesel mechanic and my freelance-writing business was sent into a tailspin.

We went through our emergency fund within a few months. Living in a small Arkansas town, my husband had few opportunities to find a job paying close to anything like he’d been making. He ended up working two full-time jobs for minimum wage, $7.50 an hour. It still wasn’t enough to cover our modest expenses, so we began using credit cards as a means to survive. Soon, debt collectors began calling; we then refinanced the mortgage and took advantage of a loan modification on our truck.

Through those rough 18 months, I would sometimes open the top desk drawer, pull out my mom’s checkbook and rub it. I thought of all the financial hardships she’d endured: After my dad died, mom was forced to close her new craft business and sell the larger dream home they’d been able to buy two years prior. She needed money to pay their debts and live on until she could draw that pension.

Like a genie in a bottle, as I rubbed that checkbook, my mom’s can-do spirit would jump out at me. “Life is always about balance, in every area,” I remember she had told me.


What My Mom Did to Survive

Her voice kept me going through the hardest of those months. Still, at the end of our hardship in the spring of 2010, Dale and I thought of doing what my mom had done to survive — sell our house. Like her, we didn’t know where we would go or what we would do, but we felt crushed by the long hours of work and the debt. We made an appointment with a Realtor.

The day before that appointment, Dale was called back to his job.

Unlike my mom, we were fortunately able to hold onto our greatest asset, our home and land.

As the economy recovered, so did my freelance business. Today, we still have some of the credit card debt we racked up, although we’ve made progress reducing the balances. Dale was finally eligible for his company’s matching retirement plan last year, so we’re hoping to rebuild some of the savings we lost.
Living Mom’s Lesson

Like many Americans, we’re nowhere near where we need to be financially. But — thanks to Mom’s advice — we’re doing the best we can by balancing work and life, and trying to save a little along the way. Now in our 50s, nearing the age my dad was when he died, it makes me anxious that one of us might not be able to work before we’re able to pay off the house and most of our debt.

I’m holding Mom’s checkbook in my hand, as I contemplate what to do with it.

I close my eyes and see Mom’s tiny 90-pound frame standing in front of me at the grocery checkout line, writing a check as the cashier waits patiently. Long after most people had giving up checkbooks for debit cards, Mom clung to hers. It was comforting; her careful penmanship told her the checkbook balanced, no matter what, and it always had that little extra — just in case.

I hear her words again. I smile, returning Mom’s checkbook to my top desk drawer. Life is all about balance, even when you’re in the mood for purging.

Our financial future is still uncertain, but Mom’s checkbook still has that little something left in it I can cling to for comfort — that genie that brings her voice back to me when I need to hear it the most.