Thanksgiving comes early at Elkton Transitional Care
— Betty Sund and a host of helpers prepared and served a Thanksgiving luncheon at Elkton Transitional Care Center on Saturday, filling the hearts as well as the bellies of more than 125 residents and their family members.
This marks the 20th consecutive year that Sund has headed the huge undertaking, which, this year, involved cooking eight turkeys that yielded approximately 140 pounds of meat and preparing many pounds of gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, carrots and other side dishes.
It brings joy to Sund, who has served several years as a hairdresser at the facility for shortterm and long- term residents who have Alzheimer’s disease, injuries and ailments that require physical therapy and other medical conditions.
“They’re my heart,” Sund said, referring to the residents she typically greets with hugs and engages in conversations about anything that is on their minds. “I can be down about something when I come here and they brighten my day, just knowing that they’ve been waiting for me. I call them ‘ my little darlings.’ They always put a smile on my face.”
Sund is a longtime member of the Bible Church of Jesus Christ in Elkton and she recruits fellow parishioners, including boys and girls in the church’s youth group, to pull off the annual feast. She also is helped by friends, Transitional Care Center employees and her daughter, Anne Holdren.
“This is the Thanksgiving I do for them, because they want to be with their families on the real Thanksgiving,” Sund explained, before admitting she also is motivated by personal reasons. “I want to share in Thanksgiving with them.”
It is truly an act of love on the part of Sund, according to Dawn Strohmaier, who is the life enrichment director at the center. Strohmaier reported that the annual event is made possible through donations, although Sund has paid out of pocket on occasion.
“She’s like the sweetest, kindest person you will ever meet. She’s like a mom to everyone. She’s an angel,” Stroheimer said.
One of Sund’s above- and- beyond endeavors includes organizing a choir of care center residents and directing them. That choir performed during Saturday’s luncheon.
The annual event started small- scale some 20 years ago with Sund and her mother, Vera Wadkins, preparing the meal with the assistance of care center residents and employees, Stroheimer recalled. It was held in small room, she noted.
“Well, it grew over the years, and now has relocated to the main dining hall,” Stroheimer said.
The residents and their visiting family members in that main dining hall on Saturday were most appreciative of Sund and her efforts.
“She’s wonderful. We get along great. I love her,” longtime resident Geraldine Swift said of Sund.
Saturday’s feast made care center resident William Young, 63, nostalgic.
“It takes me back to the old days of a Thanksgiving with a big family dinner,” Young said, noting that the actual Thanksgiving holiday is some two weeks away and joking, “This meal is so good I’m looking forward to another one.”
Michelle Harris, also a longterm resident, summed up Saturday’s feast this way: “This is a little piece of home.”
Debbie Happold, activities director at the Elkton Transitional Care Center, carries two plates of desserts to the dining residents.