Words by Jenny Lynn Davis | Images by Justin Hunter
On August 10th, Ridgewood Health Services’ Verliera Johnson was honored for receiving her Activities Director Certification. The commendable achievement was unveiled during what appeared to be a routine staff meeting but turned out to be a heartfelt surprise celebration of Johnson’s dedication and hard work.
Verliera’s journey to becoming Activities Director mirrors her commitment to the residents of Ridgewood. Having returned to the facility four years ago after a decade-long stint in the 1990s, she initially served as a housekeeping supervisor and then transitioned to a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) role. Eventually, she found her calling in the activities department, where her infectious enthusiasm and deep empathy for residents made her an invaluable asset.
A calendar hanging on her office wall exemplifies her dedication to enhancing residents’ lives through engaging activities. From traditional games to imaginative events like National S’mores Day celebrations, Verliera’s creativity knows no bounds.
“I just love the residents here. I could talk to them while in housekeeping, but I didn’t get real one-on-one interaction or get to know them. I love seeing their smiles when we do different activities, and I love coming up with new and exciting things for us to do together,” she says.
During the presentation of Verliera’s certification, Ridgewood’s Administrator, Annette Snow, remarked, “The activities department is very important for the quality of life of our residents here at Ridgewood. Activities is often a thankless department, and we don’t always realize what all goes into providing activities for our residents.”
Snow acknowledged Verliera’s diligent journey toward certification: “We have been anticipating this certification for quite some time now. We started work on it shortly after I started as Administrator in April of this year. We are truly proud of Verliera and look forward to what she will do in the future. The residents love her, she brings life to this facility, and she does a great job.”
Ridgewood’s Vice President, Alicia Stewart, and Chief Operating Officer, Matt Cornelius, also expressed their heartfelt appreciation for Verliera’s contributions to the facility. “Your personality brings such sunshine into the building, and we’re so thankful for you and so proud of you,” Stewart said.
“Hearing your laugh up and down the hallways is contagious to us and the residents. You bring such joy to them, and you do an excellent job. Thank you for doing what you do; keeping it fun for our residents is very important,” Cornelius added.
When asked what motivates her, Verliera said, “I am always looking to grow and advance as a person. I want to continue growing. I like to have a good time; I’m a happy person. We all have our bad days, but I leave it at the door when I walk into the facility every day. I like to smile, and I like to make people smile.”
And that she does.
Congratulations, Verliera, on this fantastic milestone! WL