Harper Smith

Bowling Green State University
2019

“I created the Otterbein Bins program which provides structured activities, resident recommendations, and communication tips that are personalized to the resident population. ”

My experience as one of the Ohio Scholars in Aging has been truly life changing. Through the multiple meetings in Columbus, I was able to better determine the career path I intend to take in order to best serve older adults. Without the opportunities provided by Ohio Scholars in Aging, I would not understand my role in the gerontology field. My social work philosophy has benefitted from exposure to Dementia legislation, the Village Model, and the Age Friendly Columbus project. I am now able to clearly articulate the ways in which I will help older adults and respect the choices they make. My philosophy reads, “It is my calling to provide compassion and empowerment during the process of aging. I place significance on the experience of individuals and will do all in my power to honor their wishes throughout the aging process. I value dignity of the individual, consensus in decision making, and promotion of the least restrictive environment for older adults. I can be expected to hold space for those whose voices are not being heard through active listening and shared responsibility in the relationship. I will provide the necessary knowledge and resources to individuals and their social support networks to empower them to make informed choices based upon personal values.” I hope to start a Village during my career to further implement my philosophy; an idea I would not have developed without the Ohio Scholars in Aging program.

My internship at Otterbein, Pemberville has given me a clear picture of what management of a Continuing Care Retirement Community can look like and I am grateful for the time I have spent there. Determining a need within the facility was a challenge and took many different project ideas, but eventually I identified a project pulling from my volunteer experience at other facilities. Often, volunteers are made to figure it out as they go with little support from staff. While I didn’t feel this way at Otterbein, I wanted to relieve some of the work that supporting a volunteer takes. I created the Otterbein Bins program which provides structured activities, resident recommendations, and communication tips that are personalized to the resident population. A volunteer can pick from 4 boxes with different crafts or activities and take it back to the assisted living wing. The program is intended to increase volunteer hours from BGSU students and help them better understand how to lead activities with residents afflicted by dementia.

I want to thank the staff at the Ohio Scholars in Aging program for changing my career path for the better. I will forever look back on the experiences I gained and be grateful for the professional development they provided. Future Scholars, remember to take notes and get business cards! You’ll never know how important the connections you make here will be later in your career.