UNL Retirement

Sydnie Smith discovered her passion for connecting with the elderly residents while working at Legacy Retirement Communities.

Smith, a senior psychology major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said in an email that she worked in the kitchen at Legacy Retirement Communities in 2015 for about three years, and has been working as an activities associate there for about two and a half years. 

Smith said she started working at Legacy Retirement Communities because she had a couple of friends who worked there as well. 

“My experience has been great working with the residents,” Smith said. “I had no idea it would turn into such a passion for the elderly population.”

Being an activities associate includes having different activities each day in the morning and the afternoon, according to Smith. The activities range anywhere from bingo, happy hour and painting nails to having mini horses come for residents to pet. Smith said she has had lots of fun being an activities associate.

Smith said she loves working at Legacy Retirement Communities because the staff has a passion for the residents and it is more than just a job.

“I have had a wonderful experience getting close with residents,” Smith said. “I am able to connect really well to the residents.”

One of the residents Smith became close with was 98-year-old Margie Martin. 

Smith said she became close with Martin in 2016 after serving Martin’s section almost every night in the dining room. Smith said her relationship with Martin has developed over the last four years.

“We like to consider one another friends,” Smith said.

Smith said Martin cannot see well, so Smith helps her read what Martin writes down, then types it up. Martin said she woke up one night and thought she could not read anything and could only listen to books, so she decided to replace it with a different activity.

Martin said she started coming up with rhymes about a year ago. Martin said writing rhymes gives her a sense of showing her appreciation for other people.

“When you lose one ability, you replace what you lost with something else,” Martin said.

Smith said Martin writes rhymes for individual staff members, and Smith helps type them up. The rhymes are personalized to how the staff help her and other residents.

“It makes people feel good,” Smith said. “She has written one about me and it makes me smile when I read it. It has to do with sunshine, her nickname for me.”

A couple of months ago, Martin started writing about the COVID-19 pandemic and asked Smith to help her brainstorm while they were editing through it, according to Smith.

“It really has been a lot of fun discussing the things that should be talked about in this rhyme, things that can lighten the situation,” Smith said.

Martin said she wanted to make one about the COVID-19 pandemic because it has affected many people’s lives. She wanted to share her appreciation and gratitude toward the people who take care of her and the other residents at the center.

“This rhyme is not meant to be sad,” Smith said. “I think we have all found during this time we can’t take things for granted, it sure has been a time to be thankful for the things and people we have in our lives.”

Martin said the rhyme is about showing her appreciation and support for others and encouraging others to remain optimistic during the pandemic.

“The main thing I want people to take away from the COVID-19 rhyme is that people have a sense of hope for the future,” Martin said. “We want to thank those caring for one another during this time.”

A Rhyme for the Times

“Oh Corona, Corona, a nasty virus you are,

You invaded the U.S. from a distance afar.

You caused thousands of deaths and many jobs lost,

You’ve acquired fame at any cost.

First responders, medical providers, and many more,

All work together to win this war.

Experts advise and give us some tasks,

Social distancing, washing hands, wearing gloves, and masks.

Don’t blame the president for COVID-19,

It came to our country quite unforeseen.

Continue to care for others with words and good deeds,

True kindness and love are what America needs.

All of us worry, many pray, and others complain,

We each react differently to our individual pain.

So, replace fear with hope and courage for each new day,

This is referred to as the new normal way.

Could this be the silver lining for our nation?

Surely, with renewed faith and inspiration.

So, let us plan for our future generation,

With a new understanding of support and appreciation.”

By Margie Martin – 98 years old

Collaboration with Sydnie Smith – University of Nebraska-Lincoln student