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Meet our new Life Enrichment Assistant Director, Shannon Cummings

Q. How long have you been with PMMA?

A. I started June 27th, I’ve been here for about one month with PMMA and in my current role as Life Enrichment Assistant Director.

Q. Can you talk about the job and what you do?

A. At this time, my job is programming and running all activities in assisted living. I’ll also be helping Sandy with other duties when she’s gone or as needed around the Aberdeen community. Besides doing activities, the living room on the second floor in Assisted Living is where I reside most of my day, so anytime a resident comes looking for something to do or just wants to chat I’m available. I like to try and invite each resident in AL to each and every activity. I am enjoying learning their likes and dislikes as well as telling them more about myself.

Q. What ideas do you have for this role?

A. I would like to be able to get every resident in AL to engage somehow in at least one activity. My plan is to keep them busy as much as they would like to be but give them variety as well. We’ll be incorporating some outings, live entertainment, patio time, coffee, new games they have not played, various music activities and wellness activities for their body and mind. The goal is to keep everyone as independent as they can be to maintain or improve their quality of life.

Q. What do you find rewarding about this role.

A.  I am a people-person and genuinely love helping others. Not everyone has family or is comfortable socializing with strangers. Not everyone is the same or has the same interests. It is always rewarding when you can help someone “come out of their shell” and help others get to know each other. I love learning about each resident and listening to the stories they tell me about their life. I always tell people, this is the fun job - I get to have fun all day.

Q. Can you share a little about the experiences you have with residents and what they mean to you?

A. I love laughing with the residents when they are telling jokes or a funny story just as much as I love listening to a resident play the piano or when I find out that a resident and I share the same love of coffee. I have a resident that loves the music I use for a music or exercise activity, and that makes me happy. I get to connect with them on a personal level, but also learn more about them and they get to learn more about me. Recently, a resident took me on a tour to show me her baby grand piano in Independent Living, and it was so nice not only for her to show me that, but to see all of her previous neighbors that still live there stop her and visit with her. It also makes me smile when I’m able to encourage one resident to meet and learn more about another resident to begin a friendship. I love seeing happiness on other people’s faces.

Q. Can you talk a bit about some of your favorite activities?

A. Since my background is primarily in wellness and fitness, I would say my favorite is exercise, but without music I would be lost. I like to incorporate music into every activity. It is something everyone can relate to no matter where we are in our life or health. I am looking forward to outdoor time and the outings. I do enjoy the Word Games as well as I love brain teasers and getting the residents to really think but to enjoy learning the answers together as a group.

Q. Tell us a little about yourself?

A. I am originally from Kansas City, Kan., but live in Shawnee. I have been married to my husband, Jim, for nearly 17 years. We have a 13-year-old daughter named Emma, and a dog, Pua. We love to travel together as well as swimming, camping, and hiking. I worked in fitness for 11 years as a Personal Trainer and group Exercise Instructor before I became a Physical Therapist Assistant for 9 years and then jumped into the non-clinical side as a Wellness Coordinator and Activities. I like to run, I’m even currently training for a 15K (9.3 miles) trail run in November and I have not run this particular race since 2013. I love finding new shows to watch on Netflix with my husband, right now I’m addicted to Formula 1: Drive to Survive. I love being outdoors and summer is definitely my favorite season. I am a K-State Wildcat, and graduated from there in 2001. In case it isn’t obvious, I like to have fun.

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