Cynthia Celebrates 40th

March 2, 2018 

For Cynthia Hanson, it all started 40 years ago with a big sack of potatoes.

On March 1, 1978, she walked into the kitchen in what was then called the Pioneer Memorial Home. It was Cynthia’s first day and her new boss, Corrine Wentzel, assigned her first duty: peeling potatoes. Not one to complain, Cynthia took the peeler, went into action, and survived what may have been her first test. She is now celebrating her 40th anniversary of employment at PioneerCare.

Activities staff include Kathy Hatling, Julie Erlandson, Cynthia Hanson, Emily Samp, Cindy Spidahl, and Sharon Dahl.

Activities staff include Kathy Hatling, Julie Erlandson, Cynthia Hanson, Emily Samp, Cindy Spidahl, and Sharon Dahl.

Cynthia has seen many changes in how care is provided for older adults. Over time, new options became available such as independent apartment-style living, assisted living, and memory care. Cynthia has spent her entire time in what was then the nursing home, now referred to as the care center, where skilled nursing care is provided. She has seen changes within that setting as well.

“I remember in the old building, we used a dumb waiter to get meals to residents who lived upstairs on the second and third floor. We had a pulley system with ropes to pull the food up to the next floor.”

“The biggest, most important change is that most residents now have private rooms. In that way, it’s more homelike and it makes an easier transition coming from their previous homes.”

Cynthia continues, “Moving to this building brought so many improvements for people. In the old building, residents shared small rooms. They shared bathrooms too. Here, we have the larger resident rooms, each with their own bathroom. We have smaller dining rooms, almost like little restaurants, where people get to know each other better over a meal. It’s cozier. Living here is so much more enjoyable.”

At this point in the story, it’s obvious Cynthia prefers to avoid the spotlight, and even on her 40th anniversary, getting her to talk about herself is a challenge.

So what has motivated her to continue in the field? “Every day, I get to interact with these people, spend time with them, one-on-one visits, and develop strong friendships with them and their families.”

Cynthia describes a time when residents and staff were preparing for the annual Christmas pageant. It was the day before, and two women were showing each other what they were planning to wear the next day. They were both set to play the role of the angels. They were so excited. Where else can you work where you have that kind of atmosphere?”

“And the staff are so wonderful. I’ve said it before: it’s just such a family atmosphere.”

Since moving to the PioneerCare Center building in 2011, Cynthia has worked as a Neighborhood Coordinator. That position could be described best as focusing on the social side of things. She spends most of her mornings visiting one-on-one with residents in the Lakes Neighborhood, the part of the building where she is assigned. A typical afternoon brings people together for seasonal themed activities, bingo, and concerts of all types.

Cynthia celebrated her anniversary over lunch downtown with her co-workers. Together, they’re also celebrating changes in their staffing structure, moving them further away from the dietary role and providing them more time to focus on meaningful social activities with residents.

Does Cynthia plan to celebrate a 50-year career anniversary? “I have no plans to retire,” she says, “I’ve already been here 40 years; 50 years isn’t that far away so yes, probably.”

Log in