One of the happiest housekeepers, Stuart Twite brings a bright and shiny attitude to Good Samaritan Society – De Smet in South Dakota.
“Just gratitude that the opportunity was there,” Stuart says. “To me it’s just a pure blessing to be able to do it."
His boss, Dan Gunderson, a Marine Corps veteran, says the team and residents soak up Stuart’s energy. He's been cleaning rooms and doing laundry off and on for a few years.
“If we could clone him, we’d have a whole fleet of him,” Dan says. “He brings joy to everyone. It doesn’t matter how bad of day you’re having. Walking down the hallway grumbling. All of a sudden he comes out and he’s dancing and singing. You’re just like, ‘Thanks Stuart. I needed that.’”
'Diligently trying to drink myself to death'
Technically an environmental services technician, Stuart pitches in at the nursing home in many ways, sometimes from the pulpit.
“One of the reasons I think it’s a privilege to do chapel here is, I was a resident here for a while,” Stuart says.
“I was very diligently trying to drink myself to death. I was very diligent about that."
A stroke in detox five years ago limited brain function to the point the former history teacher had trouble walking. Physical therapy and rehabilitation at the Society was followed by a month of alcoholism treatment elsewhere.
"I prayed every single day that I was there that the Lord would give me meaningful work,” Stuart says. “Couple days after I got out of (alcohol) rehab, I was doing housekeeping here. It was an awesome thing. It was staggering to me.
"Dan says, “Every day that he’s alive is a blessing and he makes sure that everyone else feels the same way.”
Surrendering to God is what Stuart says saved him.
“That is so not a category in my life anymore,” Stuart says. “It’s all a part of my story and what happened."
'We take care of each other'
New chapters in that story feature quality care for nursing home residents, something the Society has been providing for 100 years.
“It is difficult work, and it is work not many people will do. That the Society continues to do it, in the way that we do it, is a beautiful thing,” Stuart says.
“No matter where we are in our life – and everybody has been in various places in their life – to be treated with the dignity that you have as being a child of God is everything. That is what we are called to do. That is what we are told to do as followers of Christ. We take care of each other."
A worthwhile cause Stuart's on a mission to carry out.
“That I was, without question, placed here to do this and to do whatever I could for his glory in this role continues to be more fulfilling than I ever possibly could have comprehended,” Stuart says.