PITTSBURG — At Gran Villas Assisted Living Gloria VanPelt works to keep residents healthy and bring joy, day by day.

Gran Villas Activity Director VanPelt is a retired phlebotomist who worked in the medical field for almost two decades.

Gran Villas is a residential home which provides assisted living for the elderly and the disabled.

In the short time she has worked there she has brought joy, motivation and engagement to the facility, the residents said.

VanPelt discovered her love for working in assisted living a few years ago when her mother lived in a similar facility in Eudora.

After volunteering at the residence home, she noticed the importance of the activities the residents were engaged in, which helped her mother and the other residents cognitively and physically.

After retirement, VanPelt said she began to feel bored and wanted to do something with her time. She remembered her experience volunteering and learned about an open position for an activities director.

“I couldn’t stand to sit at home,” she said.“The day I stepped in the door (of Gran Villas) I’ve loved it.”

Gran Villas Registered Nurse Operator Lori Ward said VanPelt has done amazing things for the residents, some of whom now participate in daily activities — including crafts, exercising and games — a motivator, she said.

“She is very engaging, she really motivates residents to participate and assist them as needed,” Ward said. “Some of the residents are not really motivated — she gets them going.”

Ward said the residents’ families are happy to have VanPelt around, they know their loved ones are getting the care they need.

VanPelt spends her spare time thinking about new activities the residents might enjoy.

“I sit at home and think and get on the computer,” she said.  

VanPelt said she loves the residents and finds them interesting, from the generational differences to hearing stories of their past.

“I love it, I like working with elderly people and hearing their stories … I try everyday to give them a hug,” VanPelt said.

Her activities are more than just exercise for the brain and body, her energy and kindness has meaning for the residents.

“She brought this place to life because she’s always peppy and full of fun … weekends are dull without her,” resident Mary Ann Wallace said.
Another resident, Pamela M. Raffurty agreed.

“Everyone looks forward to seeing her every day, I think everybody needs someone like Gloria, she’s a lot of fun,” she said.

“You’re a dang good lady,” resident Jack Spencer said to VanPelt.
“I give her five stars, she’s very friendly and comes to work with a smile on her face,” he said.  VanPelt said she enjoys working with the residents and looks forward to coming to the home to do activities — in fact, she already has spring crafts in mind.

As a reminder of their time together, VanPelt keeps a scrapbook at home.

“These are my people, I don’t know what I would do without them,” she said.

— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at spotter@morningsun.net or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.