When they accepted jobs at Mennonite Memorial Home, neither Rodney Dyck, nor Sue Richard anticipated that they would still be at MMH four decades later! Richard recently celebrated her 40th anniversary as an employee of Mennonite Home Communities of Ohio, while Dyck had that honor in 2017.
Working in two different departments, the long-term employees have similar feelings about working at MMH … Do a good job. Get to know and understand the residents, and be willing to change to meet the needs of the organization.
For someone who has spent more than 40 years working in one location, Dyck had a unique and almost exotic upbringing. His parents came to the U.S. from Canada and his father Paul Dyck was the administrator of Mennonite Memorial Home from 1973-90. While Rodney was growing up, however, Paul was administrator of a hospital in India that treated lepers. To assure that Rodney received a good education, he attended an American-run boarding school in India from age 6-14.
“I didn’t think it was unusual,” Dyck added. “If you wanted a good education in India at that time, you really had to go to boarding school.”
Returning to the U.S. as a teenager, Dyck earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at Bluffton University. During college, he worked for a floor cleaning contractor at Mennonite Memorial Home in the evenings. Eventually he was hired by MMH to mow the considerable lawn area on the West Elm Street property. Although he started out mowing and cleaning, Rodney now does some welding, electrical work, plumbing, and helps solve IT issues. The biggest change he’s seen in the nursing home industry is a “huge increase” in regulations.
Rodney has returned to India three times since moving to Ohio. The most memorable trip was with his three siblings and their families in July 2018. He has two sons, who also have the “travel bug.” Kelsey, a geologist, lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan and has traveled to the Galapagos and other remote locations. Colin, a potter in Santa Fe, New Mexico, has visited Europe and Thailand.
Learning to Understand People
Housekeeping Supervisor Sue Richard has always called Bluffton home. Taking a job at Triplett Corporation after high school, she began to work evenings in the kitchen at Mennonite Memorial Home.
“My sister-in-law worked in the kitchen and that’s how I became interested,” said Richard. At age 20, she accepted a part-time position, working from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. A few years later when a job opened up in housekeeping, she transferred to that department because the hours were better for someone with two, school-age sons.
“When a supervisory position became available in 1999, it was a big decision for me to go for it,” she added. “I knew that I wouldn’t always be able to leave my job at the end of the day; that I’d sometimes take it home with me.”
Almost 20 years later, Richard is still supervising the housekeeping staff and feels she’s learned more about families and what issues they face because of her job in a nursing facility. She’s learned an understanding of human nature and how to make the elders happy and feel at home.
“You need to understand people when you work in a nursing home,” Richard added. “I know the residents well, but I’ve also learned to respect their privacy.”
Like Rodney, Richard feels that the regulations have increased significantly since her first days in the kitchen. Now, she’s involved in the areas of safety and infection control. She finds her job is a little tougher during the winter, when she and her staff work to eliminate the germs that cause colds, flu and pneumonia.
As far as recommending a housekeeping job to others, she feels that there are a lot of rewards.
“You really have to like cleaning,” she laughed. “You also need to get to know the people here. It’s not hard, just developing an understanding.”
Sue has been married for 26 years to Randy Richard, of the MMH maintenance department. They have four grandchildren and spend their spare time traveling to Lima and Shawnee to watch them in sports. She also enjoys gardening and flowers, but feels that being with family is her most important “activity.”