Prayer Pals Prosper from Intern’s Initiative

Nicole Kaufman and Salvatore Seirmarco, Bristol Glen’s staff chaplain.

Making sure residents are engaged in activities of their choice is always the main objective of the Memory Support Residence (MSR) at Bristol Glen. With 15 residents who have one of three levels of dementia – high, medium and low – Marie Manzi, the director of memory support and residential social worker declares, “The Life Enrichment Team specialists (LETS) really run the show there. They are trained to run activities based on how the residents are responding at that particular point.”

While most Memory Support residents are physically strong, they can be cognitively challenged depending upon their level of dementia. Incorporating varied activities that take place both inside and outside of the Memory Support Residence, helps make a difference. Marie says, “MSR is special to me. I think it has come a long way during the past several years.”

An interesting initiative created specifically for Memory Support residents, informally called prayer pals, was introduced at Bristol Glen by a student intern from The Theological School at Drew University. Nicole Kaufman, working toward her Master of Divinity there, needed to complete an onsite ministry requirement. She consulted her advisor, Associate Dean at The Theological School and Chair of the United Methodist Communities board of directors, Virginia Samuel Cetuk, who recommended Nicole fulfill her requirement at Bristol Glen.

Nicole interviewed and soon began working. “They gave me an idea of what was already in place. I have a very strong calling to special needs ministry. Rev. Todd Lattig, Bristol Glen’s chaplain, suggested I spend more time with the Memory Support residents, because that in itself is a form of special needs ministry,” Nicole noted.

Nicole quickly discovered an opportunity that could benefit both the MSR and Harris Center (skilled nursing) residents. She shared a list (first names only) of Harris Center residents with the MSR residents, who each chose someone for whom to pray. This approach was very well received by the MSR residents.

Marie Manzi, the director of memory support and residential social worker.
Marie Manzi, the director of memory support and residential social worker.

Marie thought it greatly positioned Nicole for one-on-one interactions with the MSR residents. Nicole, equally pleased with the way it worked out, reflected, “It was great to help them serve others instead of being the ones served all the time. By praying for others they were able to serve other people for God.”

Although Nicole graduated on May 16, 2015, the “prayer pals” initiative still continues at Bristol Glen. Nicole and her husband, who also graduated from Drew on the same day, moved to Kansas to pursue other ministry.