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Terry Minnard & Gabe Morley – Bus Drivers turned Screener Extraordinaire
Terry - I’d been working for the Thurston County school district as a bus driver for 6 years when I was approached to work for Panorama in 2015. I was on a seemingly normal trip dropping some kids off for a performance at the Panorama Auditorium when the Aquatic & Fitness Coordinator at the time asked if I might be interested in a part-time job here as a driver - that is when I applied. When I first thought about what it’d be like to work for a retirement home, the images that came to mind were so different than the fun and enjoyable environment I was met with.
I had no idea bus driving could be such an enjoyable, and even relaxing, job. Working for the school district driving children is tough and can be very taxing. The difference here at Panorama working with this population is getting the opportunity to interact with people from so many diverse backgrounds and walks of life. The residents here have seen and learned so much; it’s been an honor to converse with them and be on the receiving end of their life lessons.
It was a surprise how lively and active most of the residents are – there’s a real need here for what we do and their appreciation for that really shows. We saw even more of this when the pandemic hit and a lot of what we got to bring to the residents changed. This is when we became screeners. It could be something as small as opening the door for them or directing them to the right person to speak with, they can’t thank you enough. The little things mean a great deal to them and that alone is what makes this job so fulfilling.
Gabe – I worked in retail and electrical before getting into transportation with the Thurston County school district. Terry and I were co-workers, so we’d known each other for a while when he mentioned his part-time job at Panorama and asked if it was something I’d be interested in. We both knew how hard our jobs were and I had no experience working with seniors – I wasn’t sure of what to expect.
In some ways the job is the same, but dealing with children who are still learning is a little harder. The activities lined up for the residents to experience vary so much; there were a lot of trips we made to places I’d never been before. I didn’t think this was something I’d get to experience when I entered the aging services field. Sometimes we take them to nice restaurants and sometimes we take them to events like the Tulip Festival or the Seattle Opera – we get to participate in some of these activities too, which is the icing on the cake.
I was certain I’d be let go when COVID first came about since all events started to get cancelled and there wasn’t a need for drivers. Little did I know, Panorama was committed to not letting anyone go and I was committed to stepping in anywhere I was needed. Since becoming a screener, I’ve become more aware and learned what it is exactly Panorama offers. The ability of these residents to still be so filled with gratitude during one of the toughest times for older adults has really kept me going. This is more than a retirement home. It’s a community where people’s first thought is to help each other and take care of one another, and I get to be a part of that.
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