Resident Programming: Innovation during the COVID-19 Pandemic

“Things are relatively calm and peaceful here, even amidst the chaos.” – Raven Kauffman, Respite Care Manager

As the COVID-19 Pandemic continues, residents at Joseph’s Home remain diligent with their social distancing but even still are finding ways to accomplish their goals and socialize with one another.

Since COVID-19 became more widely spread in March, Joseph’s Home has been relatively quiet. Even in the midst of the pandemic, residents are attending critical doctors’ appointments and meeting with staff members to discuss housing options. When they are not at doctors’ appointments or meeting with staff, residents can be found spending time with each other outside or in their rooms resting or catching up on their favorite television shows. During this time, many of the programs that residents typically enjoy have been suspended to ensure everyone remains safe from contracting the virus from any visitors to the facility. However, two programs will be starting back up this summer while the weather allows for the men to spend time outdoors.

Ready, Set, GROW Program

At the beginning of the summer, the residents established a vegetable garden with the help of staff and Board Member Debbie Rovito. This program – called Ready, Set, GROW – allows the residents to enjoy the nice Cleveland weather, develop a new skill, learn more about nutrition, and enjoy a bit of relaxation.

“We have planted cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, parsley, basil, garlic, chives, mint, cilantro and onions and we’re watching them grow,” said Healthcare Navigator Carrie Hetsler. “Additionally, with A LOT of ingenuity from John Carroll University Summer in the City Intern Sarah, we have posted throughout the house the benefits of gardening for physical and mental health, a board on the benefits of drinking more water, and a board in the dining hall spotlighting one of the plants we’re growing including the benefits of that plant and a recipe that utilizes the plant – this week we highlighted cilantro! It’s been great!”

For many years, the residents have enjoyed the art therapy program led by Ursuline College students but when the program was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the residents were devastated. With the help of a Cuyahoga Arts and Culture grant, we will be providing virtual one-on-one art therapy sessions for the residents.

The therapist is using art and talk therapy to help clients tell their back story, an origin story, or a significant event in their lives that caused them to become homeless.  He then helps them to create their own superpower or superhero persona, and talk through how they will use this to change their situations while changing the world.  From there, he will have each resident illustrate a comic book page including their superhero persona, to be compiled into a comic book – called The Superheroes of Joseph’s Home.

While this is not the art therapy program the residents had become accustomed to, they have been enjoying the opportunity to express themselves through art again – even virtually!