Thanks­giv­ing comes early at Elk­ton Tran­si­tional Care

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By CARL HAMIL­TON

— 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.”

CECIL WHIG PHOTO BY CARL HAMIL­TON

Deb­bie Hap­pold, ac­tiv­i­ties di­rec­tor at the Elk­ton Tran­si­tional Care Cen­ter, car­ries two plates of desserts to the din­ing res­i­dents.

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