Activities assistant makes a difference one smile at a time

Activities assistant makes a difference one smile at a time

Eight years ago, Kimberly Burns officially started what she describes as “the best job ever.”

She joined the Good Samaritan Society team while she was completing her nursing clinical experience. That’s when she fell in love with the residents and team at Good Samaritan Society – Davenport.

After her clinicals ended, she applied for a full-time nursing position.

“Thankfully, they offered me the job,” Kimberly says. “I love what I do here. I can’t picture myself doing anything else.”

A beacon of positivity

She started as a certified nursing assistant working in a variety of areas, from rehabilitation to long-term care. Now, she’s an activities assistant – which is a perfect fit for her enthusiasm and infectious energy.

Every workday, Kimberly shows up with her characteristic positivity. Whatever activity she has planned for the day, she knows residents will have fun.

“When we play a game, I think residents have more fun laughing at me than at the game. I’m not coordinated at all, and they think it’s hilarious when I get hit with the ball,” she says.

Music programs often end in laughs, too.

“Residents think music program is hilarious because I have all this energy and I just don’t give up. I get too into it,” she says.

Her job is a lot of fun, but it’s also very impactful. She sometimes provides end-of-life care for residents.

“I try to put a smile on their face and be a good friend. I make sure they’re happy and comfortable in their last days,” Kimberly says.

Stepping up during the COVID-19 pandemic

Kimberly’s compassion truly shone during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When it first started, I volunteered to work in the COVID unit,” she says.

At the time, Kimberly’s kids were staying with their dad. She stepped up because they wouldn’t have been in danger if she’d brought the virus home from work.

“I worked in the COVID unit for three months straight with only a few days off. During that time, I saw my kids more often over video than face to face,” she says.

Kimberly did whatever residents needed, whether it was helping them get dressed, providing lunch or simply keeping them company.

“We did the best we could to keep them comfortable. We let them know they were loved and wouldn’t be left alone,” she says.

The Good Samaritan Society turns 100

When asked about the impact the Good Samaritan Society has had on her, Kimberly gets a little emotional.

“I think the biggest impact is knowing that people appreciate what I do. The residents appreciate what I do for them,” she says. “I make them feel wanted and appreciated, like they do for me.”

She feels she gets more than she gives.

“If I’m in a bad mood, I tell my co-workers that I have to go talk to my people. The residents cheer me up. They don’t even know I’m having a crummy day, and they still just put a smile on my face,” Kimberly says.

This year, thanks to devoted employees like Kimberly, the Good Samaritan Society is hitting an important milestone – 100 years of service.

“Not many businesses make it past their first-year mark. For us to make it to 100 is amazing,” Kimberly says. “It means that people believe in what the organization stands for.”

Just like the Society as a whole, those people are driven by faith, love and compassion.

“We try to make residents feel like they’re at home instead of at a nursing home,” Kimberly says.

Ultimately, she feels the same way now as she did eight years ago.

“I feel like I have the best job ever. I get to put smiles on the faces of my residents. Knowing that I made someone’s day a little happier is the best feeling,” she says. “When you love what you do, it’s not work.”

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