Photo: Hilltop House resident Karen Lewis has been handing out special pendants to staff at the long-term care facility as a way to say thank you during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been finding creative ways to show their appreciation for frontline health-care workers. Karen Lewis, a resident at Hilltop House in Squamish, was determined to come up with a unique way to offer thanks to her health-care heroes.
Karen received pendants at Squamish Nation gatherings in the past, and decided the engraved pieces would be the perfect gesture for staff at Hilltop House. The long-time Hilltop resident said she was inspired by seeing so many people creating signs thanking health-care workers.
Through her daughter, Karen reached out to fellow Squamish Nation member and artist Stewart Nahanee, who created 125 cedar pendants in the shape of a paddle with the inscription: Survivors 2020 and Heroes HTH 2021. Karen took the time to string each pendent herself.
“I wanted to thank the staff in a little way because they worked so hard last year," she said. “I was watching TV and watching how everybody was making signs thanking workers, and I thought, I wish there was a way we could do it."
For the last couple of weeks, Karen has been greeting staff at shift change and handing out the paddles to a very appreciative group that also includes the allied and maintenance teams at the care home.
Trish Duncan, an activity coordinator at Hilltop House, said everyone is thankful and even overwhelmed by the pendant.
“It's been quite emotional for a lot of the staff," she said, adding it's been a hard year for the long-term care home during the pandemic.
It's been just as emotional for Karen seeing the reaction from staff when she hands them the pendants.
“I was almost in tears too," she said. They were really grateful."
In January, Hilltop House had a COVID-19 outbreak that was contained within a few weeks. Trish noted the outbreak was especially hard on Karen because she's quite an active resident.
Though Karen has had both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, she understands she still has to be careful.
“The past year was hard and it still is," she said.
It's a hard time made just a little easier by a thoughtful gesture of thanks.