Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

CNA students reach out to nursing homes residents


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Ironwood - Residents at the Westgate Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Ironwood and the Aspirus Long Term Care in Ontonagon received some Christmas cheer on Friday. Students in the Gogebic-Ontonagon Intermediate School District's CNA program visited the residents from outside their windows, and presented each of them with a bird feeder.

"It's cool. I think they'll really like seeing the birds," said Savanah Clemens, a CNA student enrolled at Luther L. Wright High School in Ironwood.

The students have been pen pals with the residents since September, sending correspondence via mail and also communicating with the residents via social media, according to CNA instructor Amanda Sprague.

CNA student Anna Buerger, who attends school in Ironwood, said that she thinks the pen pal program has been going pretty well, but with this project the residents were able to see them in person through the windows instead of a computer screen.

"They get excited when we get to FaceTime and everything," Buerger said.

In past, Sprauge said the students have been able to go to the facility and interact with the residents, but this year that was not possible because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Last year we were able to do tie blankets with the residents. We usually try to do an activity, but I wanted to come up with something that was outside. So here we are," Sprague said.

Students, spent about an hour at each facility. They went from one window to another putting up the feeders and knocking on windows to visit with each resident.

"I think it's very nice. It gives them something to look at and enjoy," said Jewel Jett, a student at A.D. Johnston High School in Bessemer.

Kylee Maki, who attends school in Ironwood, brought her 7-week-old golden Labrador puppy, Finley, to visit the the residents. She said that the puppy was an early Christmas present to her and she thought the residents would enjoy seeing her.

"They loved it," Marisa Buerger, rehabilitation director at Westgate, told the Daily Globe on Monday. "Residents were still talking about it today when I came to work. They loved seeing the kids. It made their day."

Students who visited the Aspirus facility in Ontonagon were able to not only hang bird-feeders, but they decorated trees and made little snowmen and reindeer for the residents window ledges.

"It was adorable. The residents loved it," said Sprague said of the little snowmen and reindeer.

Sprague said the students will be returning about every two weeks to fill the bird-feeders.