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Meet the Team: Activities

January 19, 2022
Categories: Staff

In honor of National Activity Professionals Week, we'd like to introduce some of our dedicated staff from the Activities Team at the Health Pavilion at Oak Hammock at the University of Florida. From January 23 to January 29, we celebrate those that make a difference in the world by creating fun, inspiring and memorable moments for residents. We asked our team some questions about working at Oak Hammock and some of their favorite aspects of their job. 

(from left) Keora Mincey, Samantha Albino, Chrissy Smoak, Nicole Rivera and Swanyeil “Swan” Robinson (missing Beverly Kocher)

Chrissy Smoak - Life Enrichment Activities Manager

  • Chrissy began working at Oak Hammock on December 5, 2006
  • She started working with the activities staff on April 25, 2021
  • Hometown: High Springs, Florida

Q&A with Chrissy

What are some of your hobbies?

"Photography, diamond art, cooking, traveling, and being a mom."

What's your favorite part about working with the residents?

"Making them smile and being a positive influence to leave an impact on their daily lives, but not only to them – their families and other staff, too."

Do you have an activity that you enjoy most with the residents?

"I love anything that allows for that personal interaction. I love getting to know my residents – for example, learning what their favorite snack is and surprising them with that snack even if it means I'm making a homemade butterscotch pie on my day off. I also love to dress up! Seeing smiles from the residents because I was acting or dressing goofy makes my day!"

Can you share a story about a time working here that put a smile on your face?

"After 15+ years, there have been so many days that have brought smiles to my face! I have gone tubing down the Itchnetucknee river with the residents, taken trips to the Dali Museum, and gone on lunch outings in Cedar Key. I have made so many memories with residents in all levels of care here at Oak Hammock, those living, and those who sed on. One resident who was at the end of her life held my hand and asked to see a photo of my little boy in her final days. She went on to tell me how much of a blessing it had been to have me in her life. She told me that she always considered me family and made me promise to take care of my little boy and to keep checking on her husband for her. Experiences like these mean so much to me. Being a part of a team that has just as much fun with each other as they do with the residents always makes my heart happy!"

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Keora Mincey - Activites Assistant

  • Keora began working at Oak Hammock on July 8, 2019
  • She started working with the activities staff on September 16, 2020
  • Hometown: Williston, Florida

Q&A with Keora

What are some of your hobbies?

"I enjoy spending time with my family and - most importantly - anything to do with fashion and shopping."

What's your favorite part about working with the residents?

"I enjoy seeing smiles on the residents' faces as we work with them on crafts, games, and other activities."

Do you have an activity that you enjoy most with the residents?

"My favorite resident activities are those we do with food. We are always trying new things or doing things with food that they've always loved to do."

Can you share a story about a time working here that put a smile on your face?

"I have many different moments!"

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Swanyeil "Swan" Robinson - Activities Assistant

  • Swan began working at Oak Hammock on May 22, 2012
  • She started working with the activities staff on August 29, 2014
  • Hometown: Williston, Florida

Q&A with Swan

What is your favorite hobby?

"Crafting"

What's your favorite part about working with the residents?

"I want to help our residents see the bright side. I want to keep them happy and safe."

Do you have an activity that you enjoy most with the residents?

"I love reminiscing because it takes the residents back to good times. They seem to feel surprised by all of their life's memories."

Can you share a story about a time working here that put a smile on your face?

"One of my favorite residents was transitioning to the Health Pavilion, and my previous administrator asked if I could visit to see if he would recognize me. I walked into his unit, went to his bed, and called him by name. He turned and looked at me and, with a soft, sweet voice, said, "SWANNY!" That melted my heart. All I could do was cry because he hadn't seen me in a long time. That's a day I'll never forget. So many residents have touched me in so many ways. I love my residents with all my heart!"

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Beverly Kocher - Activities Assistant

  • Beverly began working at Oak Hammock and with the activities staff on September 7, 2021
  • Hometown: Melrose for over 28 years

Q&A with Beverly

What are some of your hobbies?

"Spending time with family, taking nature walks, listening to live music, and dancing like no one is watching."

What's your favorite part about working with the residents?

"The stories they each share, the smiles they give, and the joy they fill my heart with."

Do you have an activity that you enjoy most with the residents?

"Moving it in the Morning! I love to get everyone moving and see the satisfaction on the faces of those who participate. I also love the live music performances. It gives the residents a great place to tap their toes, clap their hands and enjoy the beat of the music."

Can you share a story about a time working here that put a smile on your face?

"I don't have one story that stands out. Whenever I see a resident try something new and enjoy it, there's a smile on my face. I always smile when a resident's face lights up at what we think are the "simple things." Their joy is my joy."

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Samantha Albino - C.N.A, Activities Assistant

  • Samantha began working at Oak Hammock and with the activities staff on May 8, 2020
  • Hometown: Englewood, Florida

Q&A with Samantha

What are some of your hobbies?

"I enjoy water activities such as boating, swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. I also enjoy spending time with family and watching movies. Some of my favorite hobbies include drawing, coloring, painting, crafting, and pottery making."

What's your favorite part about working with the residents?

I enjoy getting to know each individual personally and reminiscing with them. Every resident has such a unique background. I feel like they have so much to tell. I enjoy listening to their stories.

Do you have an activity that you enjoy most with the residents?

"Being an artsy person, I am biased to the artsy activities we have. However, I enjoy it when we have live performances for the residents. Music has a way of affecting the residents. To see them move along to the music and enjoy themselves is so nice. The music takes over. I do also really enjoy the paintings with the residents. Seeing the residents work through the steps and create something they didn't think they were capable of is quite amazing."

Can you share a story about a time working here that put a smile on your face?

"It is difficult to choose just one instance. Recently, my coworkers planned a surprise party for my birthday and included a resident in the party planning. This resident even made a special card that I will cherish forever. She was so excited to be a part of the birthday party planning. I will always cherish the moments we have with our residents."

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Nicole Rivera - C.N.A., Activities Assistant

  • Nicole began working at Oak Hammock and with the activities staff in May 2020
  • Hometown: Plantation, Florida

Q&A with Nicole

What are some of your hobbies?

"I love to read and write both poetry and literature. One day, I hope to publish a book of my own! I also enjoy singing and practicing the ukulele and piano. Additionally, I love to spend plenty of time snuggling and playing with my cat, Leona."

What's your favorite part about working with the residents?

"My favorite part about working with the residents is hearing their stories and learning from their experiences."

Do you have an activity that you enjoy most with the residents?

"Anything crafty! I love seeing how each person chooses to individualize their work of art. I also love our farmer's markets because they offer a variety of things to do; there's a little something for everyone!"

Can you share a story about a time working here that put a smile on your face?

"COVID-19 has made it difficult for residents to visit with their families. I have enjoyed using FaceTime and similar applications to help our residents stay in contact with their loved ones. We had one resident who was typically non-communicative and withdrawn, but when she FaceTimed with her son, she just lit up. She would converse, smile and laugh. It brought me so much joy to be able to help her connect with him."

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