Imagine a job that is so rewarding, you decide to do it for more than 30 years and continue doing it to this day. Little did Sally Lugo know she would still be serving seniors at Baptist Retirement Community at this point in her life, but once she found her calling she didn’t want to pursue any other kind of work. Roughly 35 years ago, Lugo joined the senior living community as an aid and later applied for a position working in transportation services when one opened up. Initially, she took the position because the schedule was accommodating for her small children. Now, several years later, her children are all grown up, and Lugo is still driving residents to and from their medical appointments because of the sheer joy it brings her interacting with and serving the residents each day.
“The residents I serve are extremely grateful for the services we provide to them, as a lot of other places don’t offer transportation services to and from medical appointments,” said Lugo. “We even have scheduled trips to local supermarkets and grocery stores, as well as regularly planned outings they can sign up for, though I drive strictly for medical purposes. It alleviates so much stress for them and for their families, as they do not have to worry about planning to get to and from doctor visits, therapy sessions and other medical related appointments. We will even drop off their prescriptions at the pharmacy within Baptist Retirement Community, and once it is filled, the pharmacy will have it delivered to the resident. Sometimes, residents may not always get good news or the news they were hoping to hear at these visits, so I always try to have a genuine smile on my face and create a pleasant experience for them. I want their time with me to be positive, and I let residents know that if they need someone to talk to or simply someone to listen to them, I am here.”
Lugo said the residents she serves have quite a sense of humor and are very fun to be around. During rides, they will jokingly ask her if she will stop so they can get a tattoo, go to happy hour or on some other silly venture. She said it feels as though she is visiting with her grandparents, and she values the connections she has made. She makes a point to get to know each of them on an individual basis, learning their likes and dislikes, asking about their lives, listening to their stories, inquiring about where they are from, if they have children, what they did before, what brought them here and any hobbies they enjoy.
“We have so much to learn from them,” said Lugo. “Looking back, if I had known what I know now, I would have started a journal and kept notes of all the interesting, funny and insightful things they have shared with me. The last 35 years have been incredibly rewarding. I understand the residents better and I feel purposeful in what I am doing to make their lives a little easier. Many are happy because of the simplicity of having everything they need within our 100-acre campus and because the services are delivered by people such as myself – people who have found a calling to serve these residents and their families and take great pride and care in what they do. Many people here have a passion for giving and helping. It is a wonderful culture to be a part of.”
Lugo says Baptist Retirement Community is a cheerful community full of associates and residents who enjoy life and the simple things. She said it operates like one big family, everyone looking out for one another and supporting each other.
“I have served generations of families during my tenure, and the residents have commented that I never change,” said Lugo. “I tell them I look the same and always have a smile on my face because of them. Being around the residents makes me feel more alive, and I feel younger. They make my day, and hopefully I contribute positively to theirs as well.”