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"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself." - Joseph Campbell

January 18, 2017

A hero to North Shore Senior Center is one who inspires by his or her example, one who is able to move us to connect emotionally with North Shore Senior Center, one who motivates through all he or she is doing for others without expecting anything in return, or one who shares his or her time, talent or treasure to make another person’s life better.

From the moment the House of Welcome opened its doors in 1983, it has been a place for individuals with memory loss from Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias to feel valued, safe and respected. House of Welcome Adult Day Services offers a unique day program of structured, therapeutic, small-group activities in a comfortable, homelike setting. The House of Welcome Adult Day Services staff practices person-centered care seeing our participants as individuals, rather than focusing on their illness or on the abilities they may have lost.

One such participant was Dr. Arnold Weber’s (former President of Northwestern University) wife, Edna. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Edna Weber came to the House of Welcome in 2008 and was a participant there for many years. For Dr. Weber, he saw the disease eat at his wife, describing Alzheimer’s as “death by the inch.” “No one can underestimate the impact it had on a 60-year marriage,” he said. “The House of Welcome provided us with a positive, welcoming atmosphere during a stressful time as I watched my wife’s health deteriorate.”

Edna attended the day program twice a week from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. As Edna continued to participate at the House of Welcome, Dr. Weber came to appreciate the care she was receiving more and more. “Staff members were always professional, but they interacted with Edna with compassion and warmth,” he shared. “I would arrive early to pick her up in the afternoon just so I could see her in group activities such as singing, tending to flowers or playing with a therapy dog.”

Advocating for older adults and asking others to contribute to the House of Welcome was something Dr. Weber did in everyday conversations with family, friends and colleagues. When people would inquire how Edna was doing, he would tell them she was at the House of Welcome and would give the organization an “A+ rating for how we cared for a loved one. The staff at the House of Welcome provided extraordinary service and tried their best with each and every participant.”

To have a lasting impact on the House of Welcome and to honor his late wife, Dr. Weber volunteered to chair a campaign to raise funds for a three-season garden to be built at the House of Welcome. Now known as the Edna Weber Garden of Light Wing, Dr. Weber knows that the new garden will become an integral part of the programing as horticultural activities allow participants to partake in meaningful activities in a therapeutic environment.

For Dr. Weber, the perfect example of an everyday hero is the staff at the House of Welcome who works with the participants. “Staff members are the ones who treat each participant with dignity and respect, recognizing and honoring them as individuals. Staff here are the real heroes.”

Our seniors are very fortunate to have “everyday heroes” committed to helping them and impacting their lives. We encourage all of you to become “everyday heroes” of North Shore  Senior Center. Together, we will make a difference in the lives of the older adults we serve.