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Puzzle Theme for Volunteer Appreciation

Volunteers are an essential piece of retirement communities! They can be found volunteering at the reception desk when you first walk in, running an activity for the entire community to attend, folding napkins for the dining room and even taking potential residents on tours of the community for the sales and marketing department. Resident volunteers may also be board or committee members of your community's resident board. It is hard to imagine a successful community without resident volunteers.

As the activities director in my CCRC community, it is my responsibility to make sure there is a wonderful appreciation luncheon every year to thank our residents. This year we used a puzzle theme for the lunch. The idea came to us (me and my co-workers from our neighboring sister community) from the Positive Promotions catalog.

Here are the highlights of the event that connected the pieces together for a successful and meaningful afternoon:

In Advance
1) Took a photo of the entrance of our community (or it could be an focal point that is recognizable to your community) and had a puzzle made from it.

2) Put the puzzle together and then

  • numbered all of the pieces in the order that made the puzzle whole
  • created a guide with the shape of the pieces and the number of it
3) Made centerpieces for the tables.
  • Bought a child's floor puzzle with very large pieces and bright colors
  • Used puzzles that were unwanted (you could do this also and try to get all the pieces back into the right box, but I was not worried about that as I have a puzzle population problem already.) and fill in a glass vase. I used a small craft stick and hot glue gun to put it all together. 
  • Created a personalized label on card stock from Printshop.You will need to make 2 for each centerpiece. Add a graphic so the "back" will look pretty in a different way from the front (shown here).
4) Created and printed a program for the afternoon

The Day of the Event
1) Decorate with bright colors and put centerpieces on the tables

2) Randomly placed the number puzzle pieces at every place setting with the number side up.

3) Put the guide created with the puzzle shapes and numbers out on a table. It is important that residents can reach the puzzle from all sides of the table.

4) At the point in the program that you determine is the best, call residents to the puzzle table in numeric order...... not by tables.

5) Make sure to have a patient staff person (or people) there to assist. But remember
  • Turn the piece right-side up (don't laugh - it was an issue for some)
  • Allow the resident to put in the piece when they are capable
6) Encourage residents to return to see the completed puzzle at the end of the program

Those are the highlights of this year's program. Of course there was a great meal, a few key speakers and a gift for everyone. I hope you will take time to see the 10 other posts that I have written about resident volunteers

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