Connie’s Farewell

Our Team
Connie Hansen

Posted: February 7, 2023

Life Enrichment Director Connie Hansen retires after 20 years at St. John’s

“Well…it’s been quite a ride. Twenty years at St. John’s, with title changes, organization name changes, department name changes and building changes. My career path started with a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from UC Berkeley then a Master’s in Recreation and Leisure Studies from Springfield College in Massachusetts. While all my focus during college was on children, when it came time to find a job in 1981, the job I found was working with frail elders in an Adult Day Health program. Two and a half years later I moved to the county hospital in San Jose, CA in the acute rehabilitation department. A dream job with six recreation therapists working together. Most recreation therapy jobs are solo and working as part of a team was a welcome change.

My husband John and I moved to Jackson in 2002. I had met Joyce Corcoran, my predecessor, and Marty Robers, the social worker for St. John’s Living Center, during a visit to Jackson, and kept in touch with them before we re-located. As luck would have it, Joyce was retiring in the foreseeable future. I started my career at St. John’s in January 2003, working in the eight hour a week position of Activities Assistant. It was a great way to get to know the residents, staff, and the St. John’s organization to determine whether applying for the full-time job of Activities Coordinator would be a good fit. Clearly, the answer was yes!

While I’ve seen many changes over the years, they’ve all been for the betterment of the care of our beloved residents. For example, when I started, everyone had to be up, dressed and in the dining room by 8:00 am for breakfast because that’s what WE thought was best and what worked best for US. Over the years, we’ve embraced the Eden Alternative philosophy, giving our residents more choices and control over their daily lives.

Over the years, there have been too many special events and outings to list here. But annual trips to Yellowstone, the Bar J Chuckwagon and Pinedale stand out, as does a picnic at String Lake when we were joined by a black bear who cruised by just as we were getting settled at our picnic spot. Residents talked about THAT for months! One experience I’ll always treasure happened on one of the first outings I arranged. A resident who attended that day rarely spoke, and when he did, usually only said single words. Again, on a String Lake picnic trip, he was gazing up at the Cathedral group of peaks and he said, “It’s so beautiful here”. That memory still brings tears to my eyes. How special it was that we were able to impact him in such a significant way that he was able to make that statement.

Our move to Sage Living has been a challenge and a blessing. From the start of the building planning, I was overjoyed to hear there would be dedicated Life Enrichment spaces. Once settled in our new community we’ve used the Town Hall and MAC (Music & Art Center) daily. What an improvement to be able to set up for LE and music programs in advance and not have to disturb people in the middle of breakfast because we needed to move them in order to share the space for activities.

I’m looking forward to retirement while John and I are able to actively participate in the camping, skiing, hiking and travel we love, but I will miss the residents, staff, volunteers, and families with whom I’ve worked and played for these many years. I’m deeply grateful for the experiences, education and support I’ve had from so many people. I hope I’ve been able to positively impact our residents and by association, their families, during my time at St. John’s.

We have no plans to leave the valley and I expect to be around and drop in occasionally to keep in touch with the people who have been such an integral part of my life.

Sincerely,

Connie Hansen”

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