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Homewood employee helps residents relive memories in pictures

December 12, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

WILLIAMSPORT

marlob@herald-mail.com

With 18 years of experience working with older residents at Homewood at Williamsport, Cheryl Reeder said she learned early that there was a richness to their former lives that few others knew.

"I thought it was important to know what these people were like before they came to Homewood ... to see them in a different light," Reeder said.

So two years ago, the first-floor certified nursing assistant/medication technician, started assembling what she calls memory boards. Using skills she learned in scrapbooking, Reeder began approaching residents on her floor and asking them about their pasts.

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"It went a little slow at first but then they really got involved," Reeder said. "I have 21 residents and so far, I have done memory boards for 16 of them."

This month, Betty Maris and her husband, Bob, are highlighted on an easel along the wall of the first-floor dining room where residents often congregate.

"I found out she used to be a police officer in Howard County," Reeder said.

Reeder said Betty Maris has friends from Howard County who visit her at Homewood. And Bob Maris visits every day, she said.

The display, which has received a lot of attention from other residents, features Bob and Betty Maris' wedding picture and a picture of Betty in her police uniform.

A childhood picture of resident Marcella Ard, now in her 90s, is also displayed, showing her long, auburn curls, Reeder said.

"Her mother saved those curls for her - those long, auburn ringlets still have the ribbons attached," Reeder said.

There has been a lot of interest now that the residents understand what Reeder's memory boards are all about. Relatives have responded with many notes about her efforts for their loved ones.

The Rev. Reg Rice, a chaplain at Homewood, said Reeder's efforts have been a real boost for residents and staff alike.

"The last one I did was for Paul Schetrompf, who just passed away in October," Reeder said.

She began compiling it a year ago, with his help providing old pictures from an album that she copied.

"The family displayed the memory board at his funeral," Reeder said.

Growing up without much interaction with her own grandparents, Reeder said she believes that might be one reason why she has enjoyed her sometimes difficult profession for so many years.

"They're not old people, they're just older people whom I find have lived very interesting lives," Reeder said.

Reeder said she often gets notes from residents and relatives about the memory boards.

"We are all here to learn from one another," she said.

A native of Washington County, Reeder, 54, was trained at Western Maryland State Hospital in 1969 and through courses at Hagerstown Community College. She and her husband, Dennis Reeder, have two children.

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