Perfect match: Adult Day Care praises 20-year worker

Lisa Sheldon was celebrated for 20 years recently by residents.

Lisa Sheldon laughed as she recalled “I had been working for my mom at her home-based daycare and I decided to look for something else. I saw an advertisement in the Penny Saver for a part time Program Assistant at the Chautauqua Adult Day Care, Centers Inc. Dunkirk location. I went for an interview, where I only remember two men talking about sports.”

She shrugged and smiled. A week later she received the dreaded “Dear John,” letter notifying her that she had not been selected for the job. Sheldon said that she didn’t think much of it at the time and “I didn’t even know anything about adult day care. I really just thought I would work there until I found something different.”

Life resumed. About a week later Sheldon recalled getting a phone call that went something like “The person we hired never showed up. Are you still interested in the position?” She responded, “I can start tomorrow.” Tomorrow was Jan. 24, 2004, and the rest is CADCC history.

Sheldon, whose current title is Client Care Coordinator at the CACDD Dunkirk Center (located at 733 Central Ave. in Dunkirk) took a walk down memory lane as she tried to remember all the different titles, roles and locations over the last 20 years.

She shared that 20 years ago the agency shared a van. Far different than the buses each center owns/operates today. If the Dunkirk Center had a need for the van she would go to the Jamestown Center and pick it up to use it for the day.

She said, “The van wasn’t even wheelchair accessible back then. I don’t know how we managed to do what we did. But we did it!”

Sheldon, who continues to always offer a helping hand, ended up being offered the opportunity for upward mobility within the agency as she recalls “I welcomed every challenge! Whenever anyone was out sick or for an extended period or quit, whatever the circumstances, I would put my hand up and offer to do it.

“Even when I didn’t know exactly how to do it or if I wasn’t qualified. It didn’t matter to me. I always ended up figuring it out.”

She has worked at each of the CADCC sites as well as helped with planning/programming for the Saturday program when it was up and running. “I helped plan for the program, did the transportation sheets, menu preparation and the shopping.” Staff who worked with her all those years ago and those who work with her today say that “it’s just Lisa.”

Director of Program Operations, Sheldon’s boss, Dawn Newbree said “the quote that goes “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.

“That’s Lisa, period. For 20 years she has dedicated herself to CADC. She goes above and beyond every single day. Lisa truly has loved each client who has walked through our doors (Dunkirk, Westfield, Jamestown) over the last 20 years, and they have all loved her right back. I am grateful for her every day.”

She and her staff provide meaningful programming daily whether it be baking, sewing, crocheting, gardening or celebrating. “We don’t need an excuse to have a party.”

When asked what Lisa enjoys most about her job or what has kept her coming back for the last 20 years, she had this to say. “I do it for my clients. I am aware of how much they get out of attending the program, that joy.”

She sighed. Although Adult Day Care is a respite program designed to give caregivers a much-needed break. It also provides socialization and a sense of comradery, community for those who live at home, alone. “We are their family.”

Sheldon recalls several years ago she used to invite any clients and/or staff who didn’t have family or a place to go be with others over for Thanksgiving or other Holidays. “There were often times so many of us, packed into my parents tiny house.” Shelooked around the activity room beaming with pride. “Not terribly long ago there were so many less clients here. It was sad and scary.” Chautauqua Adult Day Care Centers is still diligently working toward recouping their census following the Covid-19 crisis. Thankfully the laughter and joy of nearly 25 participants fills the activity room at the Dunkirk Center on any given weekday. This may be in part due to the success of the Latino Outreach being done in the North County.

Outside of work, Sheldon is very family oriented. She enjoys spending time with her mom and her two nieces, “They are so special to me!”

And she is so special to everyone at Adult Day Care. C

“Her story and the way in which she tells it makes me laugh,” said new Executive Director of CADCC, Jonelle Krauza. “In a perfect world, we are all the 1st and only choice. The gag is, many of us may be the second, third or even fifth choice whether we know it or not. What I do know is the age-old adage is true. What is supposed to be yours will always find its way to you.”

For more information on Chautauqua Adult Day Services or to schedule a tour for your loved one call 716-665-4899 or visit us on the web at www.seniordayprograms.com.


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