Two years ago in my gerontology class, I was first introduced to The Green House(r) Project. This new culture change model of nursing homes really intrigued me. At the time, I was simultaneously volunteering in a well respected nursing home in the community and found myself unsatisfied with my inability to really make a difference in the lives of elders. Regardless of the activity I had planned or the conversations we had, preset structures, routines, traditions, and the building itself inhibited growth and a higher quality of life for those who lived there. I knew that I wanted to be working with the elder population in the future, but this experience showed me that I could not be satisfied in the traditional setting.
The Green House® Project provided an alternative that precisely addressed my concerns with the traditional nursing homes. Through a series of coincidences, I was given the opportunity to intern with The Green House Project this summer and with only two weeks left, I wanted to briefly touch on my experience working with this inspirational, driven, and dedicated team.
Since the day I arrived and began tracking inventory, I have been warmly welcomed by The Green House team and other NCB Capital Impact employees. They made me feel like a fully contributing member of this team and as my responsibilities increased I was supported and appreciated along the way. As a student, being surrounded by individuals who work tirelessly to emulate the organization’s mission is very encouraging, exciting, and empowering! Being involved in all of the backend legwork required to move this project and mission forward has been a good experience. But when I actually got to visit the Green House homes in Palmyra, PA everything clicked. Seeing the smiles on the elders’ faces as we entered their home, talking with them about their experience in a Green House home, and observing their independence made everything worthwhile! This model is real and it works! The work that I was doing in the office– from preparing educational binders, marketing packets, tracking logistics for the annual conference, or mailing informational DVD– is all directly correlated to improving lives. Having the chance to visit a Green House home and see the genuine smiles of the elders clearly connected me to this bigger picture.
While I have learned a great deal this summer and strengthened my communication skills, the most important take away from this summer is that my internal spark to make a difference in the lives of older adults has been fully ignited. As I enter graduate school in the fall, I will sharpen my skills and this new found passion will continue to grow!
On that note, I’d like to thank everyone on the Green House team and at NCB Capital Impact who has taken time to get to know me, encouraged me to articulate more clearly, and challenged me be a better social worker as I move forward. Keep up the exceptional work, not only to those here in the Arlington office but to all of The Green House providers across the country! Who knows where the future will take me, but you can be confident that I will always carry pieces of this summer with me as I embark upon my social work career! Thank you! -Maire Ready