Carol Shoengier decided to change her career from kitchen and bath design to therapeutic recreation because she realized that she loves working with seniors. “I didn’t see the sickness, I didn’t see the wheel chair, I saw past that to the soul of the person, and I knew I could do it,” she said.

Carol first came to Artman when she was looking for a community for her mother. “I walked down the hall and I just loved it. I thought ‘this is where I want to work.’ I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I was determined.”

On the day that Carol visited Artman, there was a picnic going on in the court yard. “I saw some of the management staff not only interacting with the residents, but sitting on the grass eating their hot dogs, and I knew that they were down to earth people that you could talk to,” she said.

Artman wasn’t hiring at the time, but Carol wrote a letter explaining how much she loved it there. Now, 18 years later, she is retiring from Artman’s Therapeutic Recreation department.  “When I came here my credentials were very small,” she said. “But the directors knew that I saw the person, not what was inhibiting them.”

“I learned by the seat of my pants,” Carol said. She learned from experience, and took classes and seminars. “I’ve always been very creative and artistic.” Carol sells paintings in Artman’s annual art show, benefiting benevolent care.

“The biggest thing for me is the personal relationships with the residents. No matter where you work or what you do, it’s the relationships with the residents that are important.”

Carol has many small gifts at home that have been given to her by residents. “They wouldn’t mean anything to anyone else, but to me they are treasures,” she said.

Carol is looking forward to doing some more painting and visiting her three sons and five grandchildren. “I can’t wait to spend some more time with them,” she said. She has also promised to come to visit often, and is already on the calendar do to a program for residents in the near future. “I also told the residents not to be surprised if a book comes out about them. I have so many wonderful stories,” she said.

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