Herb and his wife started donating holiday cards to be recycled by Vista Prairie at Garnette Gardens in Redwood Falls, MN. It’s the first time Herb became aware of Catie Helgeson’s joyful ways. That was more than seven years ago, before Herb and his wife moved into Garnett Gardens. Herb had retired as the manager of the JC Penney Store in Redwood Falls.
Now at nearly 90, Herb has many more stories about Catie’s joy, “She does things just on the spur of the moment,” Herb says. “The resident is number one, and you can tell that right away when you meet her.”
Catie came to Garnette Gardens as a resident assistant and was promoted to Activities Manager in 2006. Her whole career has been devoted to older adults and, as she says, “the kindness and good feeling you get from people when you’ve made a difference in their lives.”
That difference started when Catie was only six. She remembers one of her first interactions with an elder during a nursing home visit with her parents shortly after Christmas. One of Catie’s gifts was a new doll that a resident there admired, a lot. Catie remembers that her name was Wilhelmina.
Catie also recalls what her mom asked her at that time, “Well, what do you want to do?” Catie decided to give Wilhelmina her doll. That might have been among Catie’s first joy jolts in a lifetime and career full of them.
Catie says those feelings come frequently from residents and colleagues at Garnette Gardens, “They give me joy every day. I’m blessed. And I hope I can give a little back to them. There are so many wonderful people here. When you walk in the building the joy is right there. They smile at you right away. Every one of them has a little piece of my heart.”
Catie’s team members recently celebrated her 18th anniversary at Garnette Gardens, as the community’s longest serving staff member. “Hugs give me joy too,” she says. “I used to put Eveready Batteries in there, but that got a little expensive… so now I do hugs. Hugs give me energy.”
Garnette Gardens offers 62 one and two-bedroom apartments for seniors who value their independence but need options for personal care and supportive services. We also offer 16 memory care suites. Nine care suites round out the options, offering a higher level of assisted living care and supervision.