Behind the Mask: Spreading Cheer, Dispelling Fear

Behind her mask, Tiwanda Randolph wears many hats: proud mother, trusted friend, Blackwood-native, hard worker. Now, Tiwanda can add one more to the list – valued member of VOADV’s Housing Services team!

Tiwanda is the new Service Coordinator for Lindenwold Towers and Waterfront Village – two of VOADV’s senior housing facilities, located in Lindenwold and Bordentown, respectively. As Service Coordinator, Tiwanda is responsible for improving the quality of life for her residents by developing and implementing supportive services at each location and providing daily assistance to residents.

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed a number of unique challenges to the senior residents Tiwanda serves. However, she is doing everything in her power to alleviate fears and safeguard their well-being – all with a smile on her face.

“Right now, the toughest thing for the residents is being isolated from their loved ones,” Tiwanda explains. “If this had lasted just a couple of weeks, that’s one thing. But now we’re going on two months!”

While following current health and safety protocols, Tiwanda and her colleagues have taken every precaution to ensure the protection of residents in both facilities.

“All high-traffic and common areas are fully cleaned and sanitized multiple times each day, and protective facemasks are worn by residents and staff at all times in shared spaces,” she continues. “We have supplies of food, water, toiletries and sanitation goods, while other necessities are being stockpiled and held in reserve.”

Tiwanda also makes sure that her residents have everything they need to maintain their physical and mental health.

“Local community members have generously donated care packages of essential goods to our residents. Different partner agencies, such as the Food Bank of South Jersey, have also delivered meals each week. Laughter and food – that is what’s getting us through the day!” she laughs.

Tiwanda is source of positivity to the residents, who look to her for support in different ways.

“It’s so important to simply show up every day,” she explains. “Our residents get a different feeling once they see you coming in the building and interacting with them – it’s calming, helps them relax and remain positive.”

Tiwanda also knows the power a real, genuine conversation can have on a person, especially during these uncertain times. From behind her mask, she makes it a point every day to spend time just speaking with residents – talking about everything from upcoming holidays and birthdays, to facility activities and whatever they wish to discuss.

“We make certain that the normal activities and little celebrations in life don’t just go and disappear because of COVID-19,” she explains. “We make it a point to keep some sort of normalcy here for our residents.”

Tiwanda has also gotten creative with the activities she plans, giving the residents something fun to look forward to each day.

Whenever the sky is sunny and clear at Waterfront Village, Tiwanda takes her Bluetooth speaker outside and becomes a DJ – playing music for residents who listen through their apartment windows and balconies, oftentimes stepping outside to enjoy the fresh air and dance along with the music! For the Easter holiday, Tiwanda made special baskets containing candy, pictures, puzzles, and a card for each resident, as a reminder that someone was thinking about them that day. Tiwanda also developed “Balcony Bingo,” where she hosts games and calls number outside from her speaker, with residents joining in from their balconies

“We’ve been so blessed,” says Tiwanda. “Our residents been following the rules and doing all that’s been asked of them. It hasn’t always been easy – but, they know this is all for the best. It’s nice to be able to do something special for them, put a smile on their face.”

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