Time to invite community back to the Restorium

Joy Liljestam
Joy Liljestam

Joy Liljestam is a true believer in the power of activity. She was activities director at a Colorado assisted living facility for eight years before retirement. She and her husband, Ted, moved to Boundary County and acquired a small and peaceful farm, a few animals. An ongoing string of work and chores that makes them laugh when they reminded themselves they were retired. And then about a year ago, Joy came out of retirement, dedicating herself to once again share the benefits of activity with the residents at the Boundary County Restorium.

She and assistant Leslie Barbacci, also an upbeat and sunny human dynamo, have virtually rebuilt the Restorium activities program from the ground up after it all but lapsed during the COVID years, filling each months’ calendar with games, social gatherings, entertainment, road trips, exercise sessions, movies and more, and the effect has been nothing short of amazing. More smiles, more chatter. A renewed energy, a vibrancy.

A confirmation, if one were needed, of the adage, “inside every old person is a young person wondering what happened,” as the mere act of getting out and mingling seems to roll back the years.

While Joy and Leslie are both pleased with the progress they’ve made so far, Joy is looking ahead toward the next big step, turning the Restorium activities program into a community activities program that happens at the Restorium.

“I’ve heard stories of how much families and groups in the community were involved in activities here before COVID shut everything down,” she said. “The Restorium was almost community center with family members joining in on activities with residents, people and groups coming in to call bingo, lead activities that were on the schedule or providing the material, manpower and expertise to make possible new activities to add to the schedule; games like pinochle, cribbage, trivial pursuit. specialty exercise classes aimed at older people slowed by age or infirmity … so many possibilities!”

Leslie Barbacci
Leslie Barbacci leads a game of Bocci Ball.

Those willing to visit and provide personal  services; haircuts, beauty treatments, manicures, etc., are welcome as well, especially those who can come by on a set schedule.

While their gait may be slow, their eyes dim and their hands unsteady, few if any of the Restorium’s residents have lost their love or capacity for learning. With the number of experts in our communities, on topics varied and diverse, Joy sees great opportunity, and she hopes, she said, to hear from people willing to spend a little time sharing with a receptive audience.

“There are so many amazing people here who have education, experience and expertise on such a wide array of subjects, if they could give as little as an hour a month, we could build a schedule of classes that would keep our residents interested and learning, exercising their mind and sharpening their mental agility,” Joy said.

She also hopes to encourage a few of the many talented artists in the community to return to the Restorium, both to teach classes and to display art to brighten the halls.

A number of the Restorium residents are accomplished artists, with beautiful portraits, landscapes, pencil, acrylics and oils on their walls to attest to the assertion. Others dabble with painting or drawing, and all of them love to learn, share ideas and techniques.

Performers and musicians are welcome, as well!

Church groups, organizations and auxiliaries, sports teams, leagues, clubs, businesses, families and individuals are welcome to sponsor or conduct activities or to assume responsibility for conducting an existing activity or just paying a visit to talk of what you do.

And it’s an election year. Being old and wise, you seldom hear resident talk about religion or politics, and never over meals, but that doesn’t mean they don’t follow what’s going on. Youi might not get big crowds, but candidates who take time to schedule a visit will get an attentive audience, good questions and honest answers, and their appreciation for thinking of them and taking the time to include them.

“The pandemic is over,” Joy said. “It’s time to make the Restorium come alive again!”

Those interested in joining Restorium residents or help with activities can call (208) 267-2453 to find out what’s scheduled for that day. Those interested in putting on a class, activity or performance, schedule a visit or who’d just like to pitch in and help can call or text Joy at (208) 610-8111 to learn more.