Brenda Kennedy instantly boosts the energy when she enters a room. Whether she’s singing, dancing or making plans for a new adventure, Kennedy’s passion is making life better for the residents at Country Meadows. She’s excited to bringing her contagious energy to the new Country Meadows of Forks campus as Community Life and Fitness Director. As she gets to know each resident, she’ll use weekly idea exchanges to customize activities to individual interests.
“It’s so inspiring to be part of this new campus and help our residents have the lifestyle they envision for themselves. I think this is a generation that expects a lot more, and there’s really no limit to what we can do,” she says.
Kennedy has a wealth of experience. During her eight years as a Country Meadows co-worker, she led the fitness program at the Bethlehem campus and the Community Life teams for all Country Meadows locations. Whether it’s arranging a ride on a 16’ schooner or a day trip to the local farmers’ market, she strives to continually raise the bar for activities and delights when residents happily meet her there.
One of her favorite experiences is taking residents on a weeklong trip to the beach. “The little slices of life are what make these trips so awesome,” she says. “Our residents don’t take a moment for granted whether it’s enjoying a sunset over the bay or the sound of their feet on the boardwalk. It’s a thrill for them to see and hear those things again.”
Her hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2014 Country Meadows won a national Best of the Best Award from the Assisted Living Federation of America for the beach trip in the category Resident and Family Engagement—Meaningful Programs Creating Purposeful Days.” The national award program recognizes organizations that advance excellence in the field of senior living.
Until construction on the new Forks campus is complete this summer, Kennedy is making connections in the Easton community by leading fitness courses such as Zumba Gold at the Lifestyle Campus, and providing education on the Validation Method to communicate with a loved one who has memory loss. In May she will present a seminar for emergency service personnel to provide first responders with tips on how to best approach a person with memory loss who may be experiencing a crisis.
“We want our surrounding community in Easton and Forks Township to know that Country Meadows is here for them as a resource,” she says.
Kennedy has worked in many fields since her first job teaching children with intellectual disabilities. Her desire to make a difference in people’s lives led her to Country Meadows. From the moment she saw the power of Validation to connect with a resident, she knew she was in the right place—one where she makes a positive impact every day.
Already Kennedy has taken steps to assure that residents at the Forks campus have permission to golf at a nearby course and swim at the YMCA pool. She’s excited about establishing Country Meadows’ first ever Bocce ball tournament, to include the Forks and Bethlehem campuses, with the Italian American Club. She also plans to provide lifelong learning programs and weekly art classes.
A New Jersey resident, Kennedy lives with her husband, Gerald, and her faithful sidekick, Gabriella Rose Kennedy, III, or “Gabi” for short. Gabi is a 4.5 pound Chihuahua who has been registered with Country Meadows for six years. Her campus visits bring smiles and encourage activity, and her ever-changing pink outfits are part of the fun. Gabi also is very good at seeking out those who will most benefit from her attention.
Kennedy plans a variety of activities and outings to match the unique interests and abilities of each resident to foster a vibrant life of independence, purposeful service and engagement by helping to empower, engage and enlighten residents.
“A lot of it is ‘slice of life’ stuff,” says Kennedy. “Something as simple as helping a resident find a treasured book, getting a sandwich that they know will please a visiting friend, or providing a manicure that makes them feel pretty, can be so enriching. It just makes their day.”