By Julie Wiessner
There are people who just do their jobs, then there are those who truly make a difference in people’s lives. Nick Lopez of Winslow Campus of Care does just that.
The Arizona Health Care Association (AHCH) named Lopez Activities Director of The Year on April 4. He was one of 13 individuals from throughout the state to be honored for his exemplary work with those in assisted living care by AHCH, the state’s largest professional long term care association.
What makes Lopez outstanding as an activities director is his ability to make each event at his facility a memorable one. Whether it’s portraying a character in a movie being viewed, like Captain Jack Sparrow for the showing of Pirates of The Caribbean, where he visited and spoke with the audience, or simply spending time with the residents to better understand who they are, Lopez goes far beyond the requirements of his job.
After learning the detailed and specific ceremonies involved with planting a garden for Navajo and Hopi tribal members, Lopez incorporated those ceremonies in the planting of the facility’s garden in order to provide those tribal members residing in the care facility a garden that is similar to ones they may have known.
Out of honoring the Native American planting traditions grew another tradition that is now in place. Blue corn seeds were sent to an inner-city school in Phoenix so the students could grow their own garden. Along with the seeds were sent letters and pictures, and now the old and the young share pictures and letters describing the progress of the gardens in both locations.
In presenting the award, it was noted that with Lopez, there are no routine days or activities, every day is an adventure. ACHS Executive Director Barbara Brown stated, “Someone who smiles, sings and brings joy to everyone he encounters is rare. Someone who is missed every day he is gone is more rare, and someone who shares his heart and soul with everyone is not just rare, but a blessing and a gift.”
By Julie Wiessner