Date: May 15, 2020
Hosts: Bryan Reynolds & Kristin Davenport
Guests: Residents Michael Porte & Judith Conn
Update from President & CEO Laura Lamb
For our fourth episode, we touch base with residents, Michael Porte at Deupree House, and Judith Conn at Episcopal Church Home in Louisville, KY. Plus we hear from President and CEO, Laura Lamb.
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Episode 4 Transcript
Bryan Reynolds [00:00:04] Hello, hello, hello. Welcome to Episode 4 of the Linkage podcast by Episcopal Retirement Services.
Bryan Reynolds [00:00:11] This episode is for the week of May 11th, 2020. Thanks so much for joining us. My name is Bryan Reynolds Vice President of Marketing of Episcopal Retirement Services, and I'm here with Kristin Davenport, director of communications for ERS and our executive producer. How are you, Kristin?
Kristin Davenport [00:00:28] I'm doing great today, Bryan. It's good to be with you.
Bryan Reynolds [00:00:31] Good. How was your Mother's Day? Did you have a good one?
Kristin Davenport [00:00:33] Yeah, I did. Thanks for asking. Some really nice family time, some connecting with our relatives through a Zoom call there. Got to help out and volunteer a little bit. So it was a great day overall.
Bryan Reynolds [00:00:47] Great. Great. Well, the Linkage podcast is created and dedicated to educating our audience about issues regarding aging, informing people about the mission of ERS and how our mission comes to life in our everyday interactions with our residents, clients and even staff members. So we've got a great show today. Kristin, you want to tell us about what we've got coming up?
Kristin Davenport [00:01:10] Yeah, Bryan today, joining us on this episode, we've got Judith Conn. She's a resident of Dudley Square in Louisville, Kentucky, at our Episcopal Church Home community. Michael Porte Michael's a resident at Dupree House in Hyde Park in Cincinnati. And then we'll, of course, be checking in with President and CEO Laura Lamb.
Bryan Reynolds [00:01:33] Well, wonderful. I'm really excited. So why don't we get our show kicked off? You want to introduce our first guest today.
Kristin Davenport [00:01:40] Thank you, Bryan. Our first guest with us today is professor emeritus of communications from University of Cincinnati, Michael Port. Michael joined the community at Deupree House in 2019. And we welcome him to the show.
Kristin Davenport [00:02:01] Not only is Michael been a lifelong teacher in his professional career, but as a retired person, Michael continues to teach, especially Tai Chi, which he's done for a number of years.
Kristin Davenport [00:02:17] So welcome, Michael.
Michael Porte [00:02:19] Hello.
Kristin Davenport [00:02:21] Michael, tell us how you're doing today.
Michael Porte [00:02:25] Well, I'm doing fine. I'm enjoying the nice sunshine. And, just had a very nice lunch. I always enjoy the food here at the Deupree House. And I think it's wonderful that we have such a great staff of 88 persons who worked so hard to keep us healthy and enjoyment of it. We have a remarkable staff here, and I'm so happy that we started a fund to keep them in good shape and to take care of their families during this period of stress.
Kristin Davenport [00:03:07] I thank you for that shout out to our staff. I'm sure they're going to appreciate that. And I do appreciate your support of the Emergency Fund. We we are so thankful for the support that we're getting because it allows us to make these times that are challenging a little easier for our staff members. And they're definitely heroes, continuing to come to work every day and continue to serve to serve our residents. So thank you for that. I appreciate it. Well, I'm glad you're doing well today. Tell me a little bit, and tell the listeners a little bit, what types of things are you doing to stay healthy and engaged during this said Covid 19 challenge to us?
Michael Porte [00:03:50] Well, when the swimming pool was open, I would swim a half mile every morning at eight o'clock. And you know, since this is a private pool, I'm hoping that we can open it again because so many people here enjoy swimming. Oh, yes. And the same is true with the exercise room. I miss my sessions in the exercise room, but I'm still working out in my room and going for walks in our beautiful campus here.
Kristin Davenport [00:04:24] Oh, good. That is great to hear. Well, I know that you have been a teacher of Tai Chi and have practiced Tai Chi for a long time. Please, please tell us a little bit more about that.
Michael Porte [00:04:42] Well, one thing that Tai Chi does is it increases our mindfulness. It makes us very much live in the present and value everything that we have in the present. And be grateful for what we have. Something that my wife and I learned when we were teaching in China back in the eighties. We were practicing it ever since. And when my wife was quite ill and couldn't do Tai Chi standing, I would always do the seated Tai Chi with her. And of course, since she died on June 25th this year, I miss her very, very much. And we had a celebration for her at the original Deupree House. The original Deupree house is in Clifton. It's now called the Clifton bed-and-breakfast. It was bought as a bed and breakfast in 1982 when Deupree 1 opened. And we had a celebration for Barbara there at the original Deupree House, and friends of ours, Marshall, and Enid and Ginzberg came in from Wisconsin. They were living here at the Duepree house in the very room in which I'm living now.
Kristin Davenport [00:06:13] Wow.
Michael Porte [00:06:15] And among the different people who came to the celebration, some friends of mine gave me a green throw. And when I moved in here, I was thinking about the celebration and about the green throw. And eventually I wrote a poem about it. Would you like to hear it?
Kristin Davenport [00:06:37] Yes. Please share that. I'd love to hear it.
Michael Porte [00:06:40] The green throw a gift for grief, not a handkerchief, a cloth with pictures of two garden chairs knowing only one can be used now. At first, it draped a black sofa. Lately, I washed it, losing black lint. Now it clings to my bed with Mark's quote in my head. Come with me to a quiet, place.
Kristin Davenport [00:07:15] Thank you for sharing those beautiful. You are a very talented writer.
Michael Porte [00:07:21] And that quote comes from Mark 6:91.
Kristin Davenport [00:07:26] Yes. Oh, my gosh. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing that. And thank you for sharing a bit of Deupree House history that that most people probably don't know. That was even some of that was news even to me. So thank you for sharing that. I was very intrigued to hear that.
Michael Porte [00:07:45] Duepree House goes back a long ways and they originally had six people staying there, the bed and breakfast when they sold it to the woman who's running it now. Whose name is Nancy. And Nancy told us all about the history of the place. And of course, we were fascinated by that, particularly since Marshall and Enid and their children came in from Wisconsin for the celebration for Barbara, and they stayed at the Deupree House -- the Clifton House bed and breakfast -- while they were in town.
Kristin Davenport [00:08:25] Those were some great connections. I just love hearing about that. So you you shared your poem with us. I think you mentioned earlier to me that you're part of a writing group at our Deupree House. Will you tell us a little more about that?
Michael Porte [00:08:41] Well, there are several of us here who are interested in keeping up our writing. We were meeting at a regular basis several times a month and reading what we have been writing. And that's just one of the many activities that go on here, usually, that we're fortunate enough to be able to take part in.
Michael Porte [00:09:11] And among the other things, of course, are the exercise classes, which are very well taught and very well attended. And there are many bridge players here. They often meet every week to play duplicate bridge. There are many activities going on all the time. And we, of course, miss all the socialization that we have regularly. And during this period, it's rare that we get to even meet with our friends because we are trying to stay isolated.
Kristin Davenport [00:09:49] And I know that it's not an easy thing, but I I know that staying isolated is the safest way for us to stop the spread of this virus. I was able to visit on Sunday and helped some families see their mothers on Mother's Day. And that was sort of like a little breath of what we hope will soon be a safer and better way to be more in contact. It's difficult when we're not in contact with each other for sure. So you're involved with time teaching Tai Chi and the Writers Club. And what are some of the other ways that you're involved there? I think there's some other committees.
Michael Porte [00:10:34] Oh, well, I have been playing duplicate bridge here and I regularly go swimming and take the exercise classes. Been teaching Taichi for 19 weeks. I could talk Tai Chi at the cottages and during the months of February, up until we were closed in March, I was teaching Tai Chi here in the event center. And I was also helping with the film selections, the film showings in the events center and meeting with the the wellness group to talk about different ways that we can help keep people healthy here.
Kristin Davenport [00:11:21] That is some good work that you're doing there. So you sound very engaged and very involved, which I think is wonderful.
Michael Porte [00:11:30] Yes, I really did this consciously. This was a wonderful way of dealing with my grief, getting involved in many activities here and thinking about other people and how I could help them.
Kristin Davenport [00:11:47] That's wonderful. Well, you certainly have. I know that the Tai Chi with our Cottage residents was really popular and something everyone looked forward to. So we all hope that we'll be back to that very soon.
Michael Porte [00:12:00] Well, I certainly hope so.
Kristin Davenport [00:12:02] Well, Michael, it's been a pleasure to talk with you today and get to know you a little bit better and to hear about what you're doing to stay healthy right now. And I would just like to ask you one more question. What's the one thing that you're really looking forward to the most? Once we get back to what I guess I call our new normal.
Michael Porte [00:12:23] Well, I've also been enjoying reading a great deal. And I want to continue reading even though I have a busy schedule. But the one thing that I'm looking forward to most would be teaching Tai Chi again here.
Kristin Davenport [00:12:40] Yes, I would say that's definitely been your passion and I'm glad that it's something that you want to continue on. I know everybody appreciates you sharing that, that the gift that you have for teaching and not only teaching, but teaching others something that is really healthy for them.
Michael Porte [00:12:59] When I looked at the plaque by the library here, I was quite pleased to see the name of a former student of mine. Thursdays sternbergh donated the library originally here, and she was an evening student of mine at the university years ago. So it was just a very pleasurable to see her name again right up there. Wow. And just think sample of how all of us can help out in different ways. That's something that we should all seek out, I think, because the more you help others, the more it comes back to you.
Kristin Davenport [00:13:41] Well, that's some very good wisdom for us. Michael, I thank you for joining us today. And you stay well until we see each other again.
Michael Porte [00:13:49] Well, thank you, Kristin. It was a pleasure talking to you.
Bryan Reynolds [00:13:56] Well, Kristen that was a great interview. Michael, he's certainly a very interesting guy. I really enjoyed his poem that he shared.
Kristin Davenport [00:14:04] Yeah. Michael is finding a lot of ways to stay engaged. And he's not only writing, but he's still doing Tai Chi and looking forward to the time when he can hold classes again, especially for residents of the Cottages.
Bryan Reynolds [00:14:19] Well, that's wonderful. I think it's so important to stay engaged and enjoy your passions. And I really enjoyed hearing from them. So with that being said, our next segments are our weekly segment with president and CEO of Laura Lamb. So we'll go straight into that.
Bryan Reynolds [00:14:40] So we're back and we're on our weekly segment with Laura Lamb president and CEO of Episcopal Retirement Services. How are you, Laura?
Laura Lamb [00:14:50] Great. Bryan, I'm doing well. How about you?
Bryan Reynolds [00:14:52] Good. Did you have a Happy Mother's Day?
Laura Lamb [00:14:55] Oh, I did. I did. It was it was more than I expected.
Kristin Davenport [00:15:01] Well, that's great. What kind of things did your family do?
Laura Lamb [00:15:03] Well, you know, and a lot of people know that I lost my mom and I'll be two years this year. And so it's really, you know, Mother's Day is bittersweet in many ways. But no, as I said on the last podcast, I just really told myself that I could choose my attitude about Mother's Day missing my mom and then, you know, being in a pandemic. It wasn't necessarily going to be be the way that it might have been. But I have to say that my children rose to the occasion. They are just it's a special no one to have them on right now. Sure. And I realize that and I'm I'm savoring every minute with both of them, but they -- you are not going to believe this. So they saw how much fun I had making that music video.
Bryan Reynolds [00:15:51] Yeah. Yeah.
Laura Lamb [00:15:52] I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree because they created a movie for me. And it just I'm telling you, best Mother's Day I could ever have hoped for. And what it really said is, boy, these two kids get me. They knew that that is exactly what what I needed right now. So.
Bryan Reynolds [00:16:15] Well, that's that's fabulous. That I think they must get that creative appeal from you.
Laura Lamb [00:16:24] Well, they are they they are proving themselves as creative and creative young adults.
Bryan Reynolds [00:16:31] Really cool. Sure. Well, and we talked about Mother's Day and some of the things that are coming up at Marjorie P. Lee and Deupree and and even at ECH, Episcopal Church Home in Louisville last week. And once you tell us a little bit, it really, I think, turned out into a special weekend, you know, amongst just, you know, the challenges that we've seen.
Laura Lamb [00:16:53] Yeah, it was it was a great weekend. First of all, the weather forecasters were a little off and in a good way. So, yeah, a little bit more better weather, whether that was anticipated. So that was great. But I'm so proud of the teams at Deupree and Marjorie Lee and ECH. They really wanted to make Mother's Day special and our retirement communities have the most strict guidelines. And we were under the orders of the governors in both states in terms of visitors and what have you. So you still can't have visitors come in the building. And you know, here we go, taking those lemons and making lemonade and so proud the team came up with we offered, get this, a hundred and eighty seven slots for Mother's Day visits, a hundred and eighty seven slots. And that took a team effort. That was no small undertaking. We had 43 staff members that took time off of their out of their holiday and volunteer their time and two hour chunks to pull that off. Yeah. And I have to say, as I looked at the list of people that volunteered, it was primarily mothers. I just I just think that is ironic and beautiful at the same time. I just I just find that just so wonderful about our staff just kind of giving of themselves, even when technically it's their holiday, too. Right?
Bryan Reynolds [00:18:29] Yeah. Yeah. Well I had a chance to be at Marjorie P. Lee for a little bit of time and just to see the faces on the family members and the smiles. It was it was really special. I also got to see some of the pictures from Episcopal Church Home. And so it really did seem like a special day.
Laura Lamb [00:18:47] It was. Thank you, Brian, for being a part of that, that that meant a lot to a lot of the families.
Bryan Reynolds [00:18:53] Well, I I love being a part of it. And I think, you know, not only did we have some special things for our residents and their families, but there was some great activity to kind of honor the mothers within the the ERS staff and families as well.
Laura Lamb [00:19:11] Yeah, yeah. A big shout out to Joan Wetzel and the entire H.R. team. They're doing a great job of making sure that we're focused not only on our residents, but also our staff. And, you know, we we understand that, you know, it's because of our staff that we have great, great communities to offer to our residents. And so a couple of the creative things that they did is they worked with our very valued business partner Robert Evans with Arrowood to make sure that we should offer a small potted plant to all of our mothers. And that was just so well received. I mean, there's nothing like getting a little flower with a message on it that just just fills your heart. Flowers do something to the soul. I'm sure of it.
Bryan Reynolds [00:20:01] Yeah, I saw those pictures and they were really nice arrangement.
Laura Lamb [00:20:06] They were. And it also shows you that something that, you know, in the scheme of things is, you know, a small gesture just means so much, so much that somebody would take the time to make make you feel special. So that was great. And then then they had an awareness that I think this is just so clever on the H.R. team's part. You know, you think about it. And I'm looking I'm in my home office looking at a few things that my kids have made me over the years. And, you know, where do they do that? They typically do it in school or in their Girl Scout troop, which, of course, we don't have those anymore. So the H.R. team made kits for parents to take home to their kids to make something special for their moms. And I just again, it's an example of really putting ourselves in our staff shoes and understanding, you know, how we can help and how we can serve families. So those pictures are just adorable to see our staff's children's faces, you know, so proud of making their mom a little a little, you know, banner or something that says You're the Greatest Mama Ever.
Bryan Reynolds [00:21:22] So I think that's so right. Those things are always so memorable. And they last on our on our bookshelves and our dressers and things like that. I have a coffee cup that I have used for the last 10 years that I still treasure from my kids. So, yeah.
Laura Lamb [00:21:39] So it just goes to show you just because schools aren't in session, we can we can figure this out together right through. Yeah.
Laura Lamb [00:21:46] Well I think there's also been some great stories. You know, just beyond just Mother's Day going on in our communities. And you know, that's one of my favorite things to talk with you about and hear from you is some of the neat success or great stories around the community. And I think recently there's been a great campaign involving toilet paper that I was hoping you'd tell us about.
Bryan Reynolds [00:22:15] Oh, my gosh. So the toilet paper challenge is about we're calling it. I love it. So we have a very generous donor that has a real heart for our residents in Affordable Living. And he really wanted to help with an immediate need. And that was you know, he understood from our communication that that our our residents and affordable living are being blessed by lots of donations of food. And so that really wasn't the need, the need. But candidly, the need was toilet paper. We can all as humans relate to the need for toilet paper. Right.
Bryan Reynolds [00:22:58] Those empty, empty shelves.
Kristin Davenport [00:23:01] And bless our affordable living heart. You know, they did they could try to get to the store. And the one time that they get to the store or have their family go to the store, there are empty shelves. So this donor heard that and said, You know what? Let's figure out how to solve that problem. So we got a an enormous donation to give every resident in Affordable Living - And this is no small undertaking Bryan.
Bryan Reynolds [00:23:28] Yeah.
Laura Lamb [00:23:29] We have seventeen hundred residents in Affordable Living.
Bryan Reynolds [00:23:32] Yeah.
Laura Lamb [00:23:33] That's more than ten THOUSAND rolls of toilet paper.
Bryan Reynolds [00:23:38] Oh my God.
Laura Lamb [00:23:39] Oh, my gosh.
Bryan Reynolds [00:23:39] Yeah.
Laura Lamb [00:23:40] So each resident in Affordable Living this week and next will be receiving their gift, Angel Soft Toilet Paper. We thought that was very appropriate.
Bryan Reynolds [00:23:50] Absolutely.
Laura Lamb [00:23:51] And then in another full circle story, we bought this toilet paper from Sysco, Cincinnati. Who you've heard us talk about, who has been an amazing partner. They're a company that has donated thousands of dollars worth of food to give to our staff and our residents. So it was just one of those full circle moments that makes your heart just swell with happiness.
Bryan Reynolds [00:24:18] Yeah, that is fabulous. Sysco, as to your point. It's been an amazing partner over the last six to eight weeks.
Laura Lamb [00:24:25] Absolutely. Absolutely.
Bryan Reynolds [00:24:27] Good. And then another story I found really good was just people kind of getting outside of the box and to help some of our residents. Marjorie P. Lee, you want to talk a little bit about what our staff was working on?
Laura Lamb [00:24:41] Sure. So, I think what you're talking about is that the other duties as assigned in all of our job descriptions right?
Bryan Reynolds [00:24:48] Right, exactly. Yeah.
Laura Lamb [00:24:49] And you know, we always have that culture. You know, I've never encountered staff that, you know, say at least to the ERS, that's not my job because they understand that we're here to serve. Yep. And that means different things on different days. So pandemic creates interesting challenges. And one of the complaints that I hear most when I interact with but with the residents in Affordable Living in our retirement communities is the restrictions on having beauty and barber services ... on our campuses. It's a real challenge. You and I both talked about it. I've cut my hair three times during this pandemic. I think your wife has cut your hair at least once, if I can recall.
Bryan Reynolds [00:25:34] Yeah. Oh, yeah.
Laura Lamb [00:25:35] Ladies, it is a, you know, a real challenge. So our resident assistants who kind of have that ability or that talent to begin with don't stop at care and service of our residents. And there are some pictures that are just adorable as showing kind of a makeshift kind of cut and trim little station. So our resident assistants, of course, are allowed to be in close proximity with our residents. They have a personal protective equipment to be able to do that safely. Right. And they are able to provide that service to to our residents. So, again, it's one of those examples of taking those hidden talents and bringing them to bear for our residents.
Bryan Reynolds [00:26:22] That's that's fabulous. Yeah. I'm already feeling like I need my second haircut of the quarantine. So I'm I I wish I could get that service myself, but. Yeah, maybe next time. Well, it kind of all along that that vein. You know, we're in this period right now where know our our government and our governors at the state level and national level are talking about opening up. And, you know, we're hearing about services like barbers and and salons and restaurants all opening up. And and yet we're still seeing a lot of data about, you know, infection rate, particularly in in different areas, going up. And certainly as an industry, the senior living industry is is facing how to deal with this. How are you looking at and discussing this with your teams about opening up?
Laura Lamb [00:27:25] Boy, Bryan, that is the question of the day. I it is really consumed a lot of my time and my attention, as well as our administrators and our directors of nursing's time. And what what what I would like to say to everyone is that we have done such a good job up until this point, and that could be for naught if we don't continue to be cautious and measured and really thoughtful about how to open and what what do I mean by that?
Laura Lamb [00:28:05] Well, you know, we have been we've been fairly lucky as an organization. And I say lucky intentionally because.
[00:28:12] I said to you and others that when we get a case, it's not going to be that we did anything wrong or we failed, because we're doing everything we can.
Bryan Reynolds [00:28:21] Right.
Laura Lamb [00:28:21] This is, This is a virus that you can't see it. And it's transmitted, you know, through human to human exposure.
Bryan Reynolds [00:28:31] Yeah.
Laura Lamb [00:28:31] So so with that, you know, we've have eight weeks of keeping it at bay. And we could we could ruin all of that if we just take a laissez faire attitude in terms of opening up. So my commitment to our residents, my commitment to the staff, is that we need to use the same principles that got us to this point to help us over the next eight weeks to a year kind of thing. Right. And I know that that's a difficult message to hear because, you know, we're all a little restless. And now, you know, we you know, your wife probably wants you to go back to the barber to get your hair cut. I think I think we we're going to have to be slow and very deliberate or everything we've done is going to be for nothing. And I don't want that. And I know that health and safety of our residents is dependent, that we do not do that. Do it that way.
Bryan Reynolds [00:29:37] Yeah. Yeah, I think I think that's wise. Because they talk about that that second wave potentially, and you know, there's been obviously hot spots on the coasts, but they talk about maybe more infections in the middle, the heartland of the country going forward. So I think we have right to your point, we'd be diligent about it going forward. So I appreciate you sharing that with us Laura. And I appreciate you joining us again this week. And I hope you have a great week this week and we'll look forward to joining next week.
Laura Lamb [00:30:14] Awesome. Thank you, Bryan. Good to be with you.
Bryan Reynolds [00:30:17] Alright you too, Laura
Kristin Davenport [00:30:20] Bryan, it's always good to check in with Laura. And it was especially good for me to hear today how we're staying nimble and in our job descriptions, we don't stay in one job description. Our staff is always ready to step up and help residents in any way that they need.
Bryan Reynolds [00:30:37] Yeah, yeah. It was nice to hear that. They can do simple things like a haircut to help make our residents feel good. So it's, as you mentioned. Always great to catch up with Laura.
Kristin Davenport [00:30:49] OK. Next up on the episode today, we've got an interview with Judith Cohn. Judith is a resident at our Dudley Square patio homes in Louisville, Kentucky, part of the Episcopal Church Home community. Let's get right to the.
Bryan Reynolds [00:31:08] So I'm here today with Judith Conn, who is a resident at Dudley Square Episcopal Church Home in Louisville, Kentucky.
Bryan Reynolds [00:31:16] Judith has been a resident Dudley Square since 2012. Eight years ago, she just celebrated her anniversary at Dudley Square. She is a part of our Feet to the Fire program, which is a partnership with Angela Burton, and her writers' workshop is involved in a lot of the resident activities. Welcome, Judith.
Judith Conn [00:31:37] Thank you. I'm happy to be here and visit with you by phone.
Bryan Reynolds [00:31:42] Yeah, we're so glad to have you. And I just mentioned to you before the interview, I really miss coming down to Episcopal Church Home during this pandemic, but hopefully at some point the visit in person again.
Judith Conn [00:31:56] That would be nice, and it will happen.
Bryan Reynolds [00:31:59] Yeah, absolutely. So just to touch base and start, how how are you doing during this pandemic?
Judith Conn [00:32:06] I'm doing well. I do stay busy in my own home. I have pretty much stayed in place since March 4th, which is the only date in the calendar. And this actually tells us what to do. March 4th. Right. Which we are trying to do. And I self-willed into the self-quarantined March and then the Episcopal Church Home quarantined us early on. So I just have been busy in my home and in my garden and I waved to friends as they walked. I am a fair weather athlete, so I don't get out if it's cold or raining.
Bryan Reynolds [00:32:45] You mentioned that, you know, you're a fairly social person and pretty active. So you've you've had a bit of an adjustment here.
Judith Conn [00:32:52] I have had a bit of an adjustment. I enjoy people. I am definitely a people person. And I do, or did, spend a lot of time over at Episcopal Church Home. One of the things I didn't mention in that earlier conversation was we did have two of our Dudley folks join the Cincinnati board and I was asked to serve as the first representative from Episcopal Church Home. That enlarged my vision of how large and how wide the retirement communities are. It was in Cincinnati and in Episcopal Church Home here.
Bryan Reynolds [00:33:32] Yeah.
Judith Conn [00:33:32] I got to know wonderful people on that board and I really miss them. And I do like the people. And I am also active with St. Luke's Episcopal Church here with our priest Lisa Tolliver.
Bryan Reynolds [00:33:46] Yeah. And so what kind of things have you done to stay active and engaged in during this time?We've had the social distancing and quarantine?
Judith Conn [00:33:57] For most of the things that I do are things that I do sitting, which is not necessarily good, but mentally I do games. I do puzzles. I am an artist. So I do Ukrainian eggs, so sometimes I paint. But once I begin that process, it takes several days. And I garden when the weather is pretty and I do chores that I've put off. I'm going through photographs of people I don't know and even photographs of travels that my husband and I did that I know my children are not going to care about looking at the mountains around the various countries that we were in. And he loved mountains. So we made a lot of pictures of mountains.
Kristin Davenport [00:34:46] Oh, wow.
Judith Conn [00:34:47] Yes.
Bryan Reynolds [00:34:48] One of the things you had mentioned for energy, too, that really struck me was you've been writing cards to people. Can we tell our audience a little bit about that thinking behind your cards?
Judith Conn [00:35:00] I enjoy writing letters anyway, but I didn't want to give up anything during Lent because we were giving up a lot already.
Bryan Reynolds [00:35:09] Sure.
Judith Conn [00:35:10] So my choice was to set aside some time each day to send a card to a person that has made a particular impact on my life. Just to say thank you. And that, I think, probably has been the best way that I have participated in the celebrations.
Bryan Reynolds [00:35:33] That is such a wonderful exercise and something I'm really going to take to heart. I think being able to show gratitude and have some positivity in a time where we feel isolated at times I think is a great a great exercise. So I appreciate you sharing that. And just speaking your writing, I'd be remiss in saying, I know you've been very active, as I mentioned earlier, in the Feet to the Fires program, the writers' workshop. And you were, actually, your article was highlighted on the PBS Web site, Next Avenue, which is a Web site for those 55 and over. How did that come about?
Judith Conn [00:36:17] Well, I was reading Next Avenue, Angela Burton introduced me to it. And I was reading one day of an article that one of the editors had written about her mother's little car that she had inherited, which made me interested in writing about our little car. That is the hardest thing I had to do since George died was to give up that car. I just had an emotional kind of attachment to his car.
Judith Conn [00:36:46] Sure, Sure.
Judith Conn [00:36:48] It was my car, because he thought it was his writing.
Bryan Reynolds [00:36:53] Writing is such a good thing for the soul in reflecting working through our emotions. So I was really tickled when I heard about your story being published.
Judith Conn [00:37:07] I was surprised. I truly was. Angela sent a note and said, have you'd been on your computer> And she knows I'm not on it all the time. And I said no. And she said, Well, you need to go so I'd see it. It was a nice treat.
Bryan Reynolds [00:37:22] So what are the other things I've been asking some of our residents from both the Episcopal Church Home and our other communities is, obviously with a full rich life. And have really seen a lot of ups and downs in life and national crisises or local crisises. So I think what I like to draw upon is that that knowledge that that folks gain. And I'm wondering, what are you drawing from in past situations of crisis or the life experiences that you've drawn for that really has helped you prepare for this current situation?
Judith Conn [00:38:00] I did, as a child, grow up during the polio epidemic. I was born in 1940, so I did not have any experience with the Second World War. My husband was a Navy chaplain for 30 years. He was activated three times and did not have to go to Vietnam or Desert Storm.
Judith Conn [00:38:29] You know, we made arrangements for the children to get to different schools, and for me to get different jobs. My job, when we moved to Louisville the very first time in 1988, I worked for the Presbyterian Church. The refugee resettlement program in our national offices. And I worked with 50 offices throughout the United States to either reunite families or to, right toward the beginning of that, to bring Amerasian children to the United States because the Vietnamese did not want them. And I'm not really certain that the United States did either. But we but we took them. Much of them ended up out in California. And that was a crisis that I lived through in a different way because it was good to be able to settle people who were in trouble.
Bryan Reynolds [00:39:30] You mentioned something about polio. As a young child, what was that like?
Judith Conn [00:39:36] I was basically quarantined. I was allowed to go outside and run around and play some. At the time, my parents wanted my brother and me to be in the house and quiet. And my parents both worked. So it was just the two of us who would entertain ourselves with games like siblings do. We didn't necessarily agree with everything. But we learned to do things together. We didn't have the TVs and we didn't have. We did have radio, but we weren't real interested in listening to the radio. except on Sundays when we could listen to things like The Shadow.
Bryan Reynolds [00:40:21] And how long did that impact you and your family?
Judith Conn [00:40:26] It lasted a lot of years. Back in... the early 60s, we had the salt vaccine. And when we started taking the salt vaccine; we lined up at our health department and we were given a vaccine on a lump of sugar. Sugar cube, which we swallowed.
Bryan Reynolds [00:40:45] Right.
Judith Conn [00:40:47] And that was in the early 60s because my oldest daughter remembers getting sugar cubes. My youngest. So she was born in 71. Deborah was born in 64. So it took that long for the vaccines for polio.
Judith Conn [00:41:06] We talking about the crisis here. And they wanted to have a vaccine to give us yesterday.
Bryan Reynolds [00:41:13] All right.
Judith Conn [00:41:14] The realization that you can't grow these things overnight.
Judith Conn [00:41:18] So I have one last question, Judith, hoping we get a vaccine at some point soon. What are you looking forward most to when this crisis is over?
Judith Conn [00:41:28] I want to see my children. And I miss touch, I missed the human touch. I'm a hugger. Air kisses can only go so far.
Bryan Reynolds [00:41:42] Right. Right.
Judith Conn [00:41:44] So I miss the human touch. I can do the voices. I can see the faces on my Skype, on my phone.
Bryan Reynolds [00:41:54] Yeah, that there's nothing like a hug, right? A pat on the back. It's a human touch.
Bryan Reynolds [00:42:04] I understand I'm a hugger too, Judith. So hopefully at some point soon we can we can do that. You know, I don't know how long it's going to take. I know probably a lot of the social norms that we did before, shaking hands, things like that may not return right away. Certainly miss that as well. Well, Judith, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with me and joining our our podcast. I hope to talk to you real soon. Thank you again.
Judith Conn [00:42:34] Thank you for asking me to participate. Enjoyed it.
Kristin Davenport [00:42:41] What a great interview with Judith today, Byian. She's one of the residents of Dudley Square who I really connected with over the last few years, and it was really good to hear her voice today.
Bryan Reynolds [00:42:49] Yeah, it was a fun interview. She's got such a great sense of humor and a creative spirit and I enjoyed catching up with her as well. Well, that's it for this episode. Thank you so much for joining us for the Linkage podcast by Episcopal Retirement Services. For more information about us, you can visit our Web site at Episcopal retirement dot com. We've lots of great content, including our Linkage online blog, resources to learn more about aging and the services we offer and so much more. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube to see what's going on within ERS and our communities. If you have any questions or any feedback for us, please e-mail us at info at erslife dot org. We love hearing from our listeners. The linkage podcast is produced by Kristin Davenport and Bryan Reynolds. Feoshia Davis is our associate producer, our technical director as much Michel Hoenn, who's done a great job of putting the show together. And I'd like to thank our guests today, including Michael Porte and Judith Conn, and of course, our update with our president and CEO Laura Lamb. On behalf of myself, Bryan Reynolds and Kristin Davenport. Thank you so much for joining us. And we look forward to our podcast next week. Thanks so much, Kristin.
Kristin Davenport [00:44:21] See you next time, Bryan, thanks.
Bryan Reynolds [00:44:24] Have a great week.