Sunday, December 5, 2021
Dec. 5, 2021

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Working in Clark County: James Winther, activities assistant

By , Columbian News Assistant
Published:
8 Photos
James Winther helps Liz Boss take aim as he leads teams of seniors in a game of bean bag baseball at Glenwood Place Senior Living in Vancouver earlier this month.
James Winther helps Liz Boss take aim as he leads teams of seniors in a game of bean bag baseball at Glenwood Place Senior Living in Vancouver earlier this month. Photo Gallery

“I want every day to be great for the folks living at Glenwood Place Senior Living,” James Winther says. Although he was born with optic nerve damage and can’t drive, it doesn’t diminish Winther’s energy and enthusiasm for his job as an activities assistant. He keeps the seniors involved and moving, especially with the bean bag baseball game. Only a handful of residents participated in the game when he started, and now there are 60 enthusiastic players. “I love to be able to put a smile on their faces when I do an activity with them,” Winther added.


Name:
James Winther.


Job/employer:
Glenwood Place Senior Living.


Age:
48.

Working in Clark County, a brief profile of interesting Clark County business owners or a worker in the public, private, or nonprofit sector. Send ideas to Mary Ricks: mary.ricks@columbian.com; fax 360-735-4598; phone 360-735-4550.

Education/professional background: Out of high school, I worked at a Denny’s Restaurant for 18 years, with 3½ years of that time in management. I decided it was time to move on and do something else.

I started working as a caregiver at Glenwood Place Senior Living. After about three years, the cottage managers liked the way I was relating to the residents and asked me to assist with activities for the Memory Care unit. The company restructured the program, and in 2009 I began doing activities in the assisted living community and have been there ever since.


Most rewarding part of job:
I like being able to put a smile on the faces of the residents when I do an activity with them. It is fun to get involved in the activity. I like to keep up on dates of major events such as the Great Depression or world wars so I can relate to them. I constantly try to find a way to spark their interests or make an activity inviting.

Working in Clark County, a brief profile of interesting Clark County business owners or a worker in the public, private, or nonprofit sector. Send ideas to Mary Ricks: mary.ricks@columbian.com; fax 360-735-4598; phone 360-735-4550.


Personal/business philosophy:
I want every day to be great for the residents, and if it is the last day of their life, they will go out with a bang.

Something you would like to do over: Nothing. I am learning a lot about myself in this job. I have found I am more qualified than I thought I was. I started opening up after I started the bean bag baseball.

Bean bag baseball: The game rules for bean bag baseball are similar to a real baseball game, with hits, on base and outs. Batters step up to a line and pitch a bean bag at a tilted board, aiming for holes designated as bases and a home run. If the bag goes in the hole, they get up and “take a base,” which means they move about 15 feet to a chair.

Baseball excitement: When I started as activities assistant, there were eight residents playing bean bag baseball. There wasn’t much enthusiasm for the game. We now have four teams of 15 players each. I have a lot of energy and try to get the residents involved. I coach them on how to throw and get on base. Glenwood provides uniforms — T-shirts and baseball caps. Recently a woman told her family if she died in her uniform she wanted her family to thank me. She said that game was her life and she enjoyed it immensely.

I organized the first tournament this past September. We invited 200 players and they came from other Vancouver facilities and from Washougal, Longview and Portland.

This is the third year I have made each player their own baseball card. I take their picture, add their stats from throughout the year and make it look like a real baseball card. They delight in passing the cards around to each other, family and friends. We hold a baseball banquet in late January and the players get trophies and awards. And their baseball cards.

Residence: Rose Village.

Best feature of Vancouver: It is clean and accommodating with easy access from the freeway. The old buildings in Vancouver have a lot of history in them.

Favorite restaurant/pub/coffee shop/store: I like Starbucks at the Vancouver mall.

Hobbies: I like building large Lego kits. After I build the kits, I take them to work and the residents love seeing them. I am teaching myself how to sew, and I find it very rewarding.

Favorite travel destination: Seaside, Ore.


Most interesting book in last 12 months:
I don’t read many books, but do read a lot on the Internet, especially information about health and fitness that I can use at work. I like science fiction.

Most interesting play/movie/arts event: I attend plays here at Glenwood. Nick Avdienko, the director who comes once a week, works with the seniors in acting classes. The residents have been putting on plays for the past four or five years and get very excited about their productions.

One thing you would like to do in the next year: Go to Hawaii for Christmas.


Something you want to do within five years:
I would like to start my own online pillow business. I also want to buy a condominium.


One word to describe yourself:
Fun-loving.


Person you’d most like to meet:
I am a true “Star Trek” baby. I would love to meet the original cast of the “Star Trek” television series, with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. I would love to spend a day on the set.

Columbian News Assistant
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