Little did Wanda Tieszen know she would start a family tradition with her career choice.
The Tieszen family’s 150-year legacy of service [video]
That tradition of senior care began in 1970 when she took her first job with Good Samaritan Society – Canistota. A few years later, her daughter would follow her there, then her granddaughters, then her great-granddaughters, too, all to serve residents each day — in the kitchen, in the laundry, at their bedsides.
“It’s comfortable to come here, you have a lot of fun. But when you’re here, you’re co-workers, you’re working together for the same good — which is the residents — and leave family issues at home.” – Denise Tieszen, director of food and nutrition, a third generation Tieszen with more than 30 years experience in Canistota
And her family has been doing that for a long time. Through nearly five decades, nine Tieszen family members have worked to serve the roughly 55 residents who call this place home. Wanda eventually became a resident here, and later died, but her legacy lives on.
About the time that the youngest Tieszen took a job this July, the family’s combined service topped 150 years. And it shows no sign of slowing. One of Wanda’s great-granddaughters, Jessica, is pursuing a career in nursing, and works part time in Canistota.
'I came in, got the job and stayed'
So where did it all start? In the late 1970s, Wanda told daughter-in-law Darlene Tieszen about a job opening at the center where she’d worked for about seven years.
“So I came in, applied, got the job and stayed here,” says Darlene, a laundry aide who has logged 41 years at the center. Her daughters took jobs “to pay for college,” she says, but were always called back.
"I went to school to be an RN, and the facility gave me some money to help fund my schooling,” says Darlene's daughter Sheri Vetch, assistant director of nursing. "So after school then, to pay off that loan, they paid a dollar back for every hour I worked. And 32 years later, I’m still working at the center, and love every minute of it.” She, sister Denise and sister-in-law Amanda have each worked many different roles here.
Started as kids
It wasn't long before the fourth generation of Tieszen's found their way to jobs on the Good Samaritan Society campus at the west end of town.
“I work in activities and in laundry with my Grandma Dar,” says Christina Tieszen. “She’s the one that trained me. It was fun bonding.”
The center wasn’t new to her — she’d been here many times with her mother or her grandma. To hear her say it, it’s almost as if she was destined to work here, as if it was something she never questioned. She just stepped up when the opportunity arose.
For Taylor Tieszen, who started her official duties this summer, the role of helping Grandma with laundry started at a young age, too. “When I was 6, I helped her go through the rooms and put the clothes away.” She recalls climbing into the laundry machines to pick up spare change. "In the back of the machines, I had to crawl in and get the money.”
“They make it feel like a family atmosphere here, and I think that’s kind of unique.” – Morgan Rustad, Canistota administrator
As for their legacy, most of them haven’t thought much about the fact that generations of families have come to rely on theirs for everyday needs. When prompted about it, Darlene had to think about it for a minute.
“On a whole, most of them have learned respect,” she says, still thinking. “In Christ’s love, everybody is someone — they better remember that. I don’t care if they’re here, or go to school or where they go. They just have to remember that.”
The Tieszen Family Tree
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