Lawrence M. Walsh
Fiesta to benefit Sunny Hill Nursing Home residents with Alzheimer’s
JOLIET – Gratitude for the care that residents receive at Sunny Hill Nursing Home and lessons learned about how the brain operates will benefit those with Alzheimer’s disease for years to come.
That gratitude is from the family of the late Richard Churnovic and KSKJ, the organization of which he and other Sunny Hill residents were members, said Danette Krieger, Sunny Hill’s Activity Director. The late Richard Tezak, also known as "Mr. Sunny Hill," was also a member of the fraternal organization.
KSKJ, the American Slovenian Catholic Union, Lodge No. 2, will put on a Mexican dinner from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 16, at St. Joseph Park, 1500 N. Raynor Ave. Proceeds will be donated to The Friends of Sunny Hill, Inc., to be used for an iPod project for the County-owned facility’s residents with Alzheimer’s.
In addition, the home office of KSKJ Life, American Slovenian Catholic Union, a fraternal benefit society that offers life insurance, fixed annuities and Medicare Supplement insurance, will match up to $1,000 collected at the event. KSKJ headquarters have been located in Joliet since 1894.
“Because of the great care that Mr. Churnovic, who was a member of St. Joseph’s Lodge No. 2, and other members who have received care at SHNH, the project chosen for the matching funds for 2015 is the Music and Memory Program at Sunny Hill,” said Gregg Vershay, Lodge President.
Sylvia Churnovic, Fraternal Activity Coordinator, is in charge of the event.
Music and Memory
An organization called Music & Memory touts the use of iPods to stimulate the memories of Alzheimer’s patients. The organization’s DVD, Alive Inside, the Story of Music and Memory, showcases the benefits of the program. More information can be found at https://musicandmemory.org/.
According to the organization’s website, the music program shows these consistent results:
- Residents are happier and more social;
- Relationships among staff, residents and family deepen;
- Everyone benefits from a calmer, more supportive social environment;
- Staff regain valuable time previously lost to behavior management issues;
- There is growing evidence that a personalized music program gives professionals one more tool in their effort to reduce reliance on anti-psychotic medications.
“The pre-frontal lobe is the last part of the brain to atrophy, and that’s where music is,” Krieger said. “They hear that song that they maybe haven’t heard for years and they come alive.”
Will County Executive Larry Walsh is excited about the project. “Any initiative that helps people with Alzheimer’s and makes their lives better and more fulfilling is a wonderful thing. This project promises that possibility for our residents.”
Krieger is certain the fund-raiser will help Sunny Hill deliver on that possibility. “If we could have 50 iPods that would be wonderful.”
Playlists are crafted for each individual. Krieger said staff and volunteers will talk to residents’ families to determine what types of music they prefer and about any songs, such as those that were played at their weddings or other memorable occasions, which are special to them.
Krieger said she would love to see some young volunteers help put music on the devices.
“Why not make it an inter-generational project? Young people are experts on that.”
“It’s all a big fiesta,” Krieger said of the May 16 event. And it brings National Nursing Home Week to a perfect conclusion.
National Nursing Home Week always begins on Mother’s Day. This year’s theme is Bring on the Fiesta.
Sunny Hill will celebrate with a mariachi band and other special events. During the week, nursing home residents will celebrate the ethnicities of all those living there.
The May 16 fund-raiser will also spotlight more than one ethnicity. Entertainment will be provided by a polka band, Slivo Express with John Churnovic.
Cost of the dinner, which will include one enchilada, one burrito, beans and rice, is $10, Carryouts are available. Refreshments will be available for sale at the bar. Tickets are limited to 300 people. “We recommend that people purchase their tickets ahead of time,” Krieger said.
There will also be a bake sale and a 50/50 raffle. The Friends of Sunny Hill, Inc., is raffling off a television and DVD player. Raffle tickets for the television cost $2 each or 3 for $5.
In addition, Friends will be collecting new and gently used iPods as well as iTune gift cards to supplement the money raised for the project.
“I applaud Administrator Karen Sorbero, her staff and all of the volunteers who are part of this fund-raiser and the project that will benefit from it,” said Walsh, whose office oversees Sunny Hill. “Their efforts will make a big difference to people affected by this disease.”
For additional information about Sunny Hill Nursing Home of Will County, go to www.willcountyillinois.com or Facebook.
At a glance:
When: 4 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 16
Place: St. Joseph Park, 1500 N. Raynor Ave. in Joliet
What: Mexican dinner benefitting Sunny Hill Nursing Home of Will County’s Music and Memory program
Cost: $10. Tickets limited to 300 dinners. Advance sales recommended. Carry-outs available.
Entertainment: Slivo Express with John Churnovic
Donations: New and gently used iPods, as well as iTunes gift cards will be collected at the event.
Miscellaneous: Bake sale, 50/50 raffle, raffle for 50-inch television and a blu-ray disc player with built-in Wi-Fi.
Information: For ticket information for the dinner and raffle, call Lydia at (815) 955-8235 or Gregg at (815) 723-1497. Tickets can also be purchased at the front desk of Sunny Hill Nursing Home of Will County, 421 Doris Ave. in Joliet