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Annual ice cream social brings together residents, first responders

For the 12th year, Newton Presbyterian Manor celebrated Flag Day by inviting local first responders to the community for an old-fashioned ice cream social.

Besides the chance to beat the heat with some cool summer treats, the event provides a unique opportunity for residents and first responders to develop relationships outside of an emergency setting.

“We want everyone to get to know each other on a different level,” said Melinda Ebersole, Life Enrichment director at Newton Presbyterian Manor. “When we have to make a call to the first responders, it’s usually because we have a resident in need of their care. Those responding to the call are usually so focused on protecting and keeping our residents comfortable that they don’t get a chance to interact with the residents unless it’s to ask them about pain level or medical questions–there usually isn’t much laughter.”

During the event, residents also provide first responders with hand-stuffed toy animals that can be given to children they encounter who have been affected by an emergency.

“All of the first responders let the residents know how helpful the stuffed animals are when they are needing to calm a child in the middle of a crisis, and the residents take pride in the fact that they are able to brighten a child’s day and hopefully help them feel safe,” said Melinda.

However, during the event it’s often the residents that find themselves acting like kids.

“All of their faces light up when they see the fire trucks,” said Melinda.

And the first responders are more than happy to help the residents indulge their inner child.

“The first responders are great, they have always been willing to let residents or staff look at or even sit in the fire trucks,” said Melinda.

Resident Bob Keckler shared that it was his first year to attend the event and he was surprised at how many fire fighters and EMS teams showed up. He said, “it was well worth being out in the summer air to see the interaction between the residents, staff and first responders.”

At the end of the day, the ice cream social is an event that leaves everyone in attendance feeling appreciative of the work of others, along with the overwhelming generosity of the community.

“I feel the relationship between a resident and someone like a first responder can never be fully understood until you walk in their shoes. The small things that we can do to make both parties understand how important both are to each other, the more comfortable they will be when they are in each other’s company and care. I am honored to be able to be a part of such a beautiful moment!” said Kristen Schrenk, Newton Presbyterian Manor’s representative with Cura Hospitality.

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