By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN “I’m thankful to Amanda for showing me the ropes and guiding me,” said Valerie Westman of former activities director, Amanda Wheelock-Kortekaas.
Westman replaced Wheelock-Kortekaas as the activities director at the Good Samaritan Society - Howard Lake (GSS) Aug. 15.
“She’ll be fabulous. I have full confidence in her,” said Wheelock-Kortekaas.
Wheelock-Kortekaas resigned as activities director to move back to her hometown, Grand Rapids, where she is currently working for adult day services.
Having been the activities director for nearly 12 years, Wheelock-Kortekaas hired Westman in October 2009.
“I had such a good team, that really helped me build up the activities programming at GSS,’’ Wheelock-Kortekaas said of Westman and Brenda Nikunen.
Gifted in different areas, the team worked well together, Wheelock-Kortekaas said.
Westman enjoyed doing physical exercises and memory care with the residents, and Nikunen worked with the residents in their musical, cooking, and crafting activities.
Although Wheelock-Kortekaas will always think fondly of Howard Lake, and miss working with the residents and volunteers, she is happy GSS decided to hire Westman to replace her.
“When you put your heart and soul into a job, you don’t want to hand it over to just anybody,” Wheelock-Kortekaas said. “Val and I our hearts are in the same place, we both care about the residents.”
Wheelock-Kortekaas also noted that Westman would continue with the programming already in place, as well as improving it.
Westman received a bachelor’s degree in community health, with minors in child and family studies and gerontology, from St, Cloud State University in 2009.
Although she was not sure which direction she would take upon graduation, she completed two internships working with the elderly population, Westman said.
“It helped me decide what kind of career I wanted,” Westman said.
“When I interned in senior housing, it was so much fun interacting with the tenants,” Westman said. “The time just flew by. If you have a job, you want the time to fly to enjoy what you’re doing.”
Westman has also been the senior living manager at Heritage Square in Howard Lake since March.
Some of the duties Westman has as the activities director are setting up the calendar of events, coordinating the volunteers, scheduling musical groups, and completing the activities portion of residents’ care plans.
Westman is a native of Howard Lake, graduating from Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School in 2005.
One of her favorite things about working at GSS is seeing all the family interaction with the residents.
“They are so supportive of the residents. You see the same family members regularly coming in to visit their loved ones,” Westman said. “It’s nice to see that.”