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Reynolds celebrates 35 years at American Heritage

Jan Reynolds has spent 35 years at American Heritage Care Center in Hammond and according to several of her coworkers, the assisted living director continues to go above and beyond the call of duty with her work.

"You never really see her sitting," said Angie Fortney, American Heritage Care Center (AHCC) activity director, "You usually see her on the go."

"I'm sure she doesn't have to do as much as she does here," said Bev Gillis, longtime AHCC volunteer and now resident, "If there's activities she just comes and knocks and checks on us to see if we want to participate."

Reynolds said her job is important to her because she feels it is meaningful.

"It gives me purpose," Reynolds said. "I feel like I'm doing something. I'm helping people."

This is one of the reasons Reynolds said she was able to stay at her job for 35 years. She said she started working at AHCC 35 years ago because she needed a job, and it was close to home.

"Convenience, I guess, was what got me started here," Reynolds said, "it just got to be easy to stay because I wanted to remain in town."

Reynolds began her career at AHCC as a nursing assistant, and applied for and was given her current position of assisted living director in 1986. What she likes most about her job, Reynolds said is working with other people.

"Every day is different," Reynolds said. "It's not just sitting in a desk all day. I'm moving around and working with people and some days having fun with them."

One of the ways Reynolds said she has fun with the residents at AHCC's assisted living facility is through events like last week's National Assisted Living Week events. The week is themed, and Reynolds said this year's theme was "Art for the Age," Residents brought out all sorts of artwork to display for the week, from paintings to knitted and crocheted pieces.

"We have a resident who has worked with wood making different napkin holders," Reynolds said. "We encourage them to bring out and share things, any kind of art."

Reynolds said another thing she especially enjoys during assisted living week is baking with residents.

"That's always fun because they sit and reminisce," Reynolds said. "It's just always fun because it gets them talking about when they were young, or when they were raising their own kids or how they did things."

Assisted living week included Grandparents day on Sept. 9, a visit from another assisted living facility on Sept. 10, a supper honoring local heroes like the police, fire and EMS departments on Sept. 11, the pie and ice cream social on Friday, and a waffle breakfast for the residents on Friday.

On a typical day, Reynolds said she generally checks in on some of the residents when she gets to work. Then she attends a meeting with all the AHCC department heads. There is a morning activity, and an afternoon activity, and paperwork in between.

"Some days there's more going on with a particular resident," said Reynolds. "Helping them maybe making a phone call, making a doctor's appointment, contacting a family member."

Reynolds said she also helps out anywhere she sees a need, if she has the time and the ability, whether that is grocery shopping for residents once a week, helping with phone calls, or just mopping up a spill when she sees one.

"Sometimes I'm pouring coffee at noon," Reynolds said.

"Jan is very conscientious and always tries to do things the right way. She is always willing to jump in to help wherever she can," Edelman said. "She truly cares about her tenants and their families."

"I'm just glad to work with her," said Katie Moll, AHCC referral manager, "I think she is a role model for us people that are younger and newer at our positions."

Moll said one thing she particularly admires about Reynolds is the way she's been able to spend 35 years in the same job.

"I think it's outstanding," Moll said, "showing her dedication and commitment to the people here."

"Jan is one of those people who takes care of all the little details with a smile," Edelman said. "Her tenants sing her praises because she is so helpful and willing to go the extra mile."

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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