Award winner does not see herself as a hero

Published 10:10 am Wednesday, May 23, 2018

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


Lisa Thomas, once knowing her children were safe after rains finally stopped August 30, she made checked with family members to look after her home and then headed to Sabine Place’s residents at their first temporary housing solution as soon as the roads were cleared.

“My children are grown,” Thomas said. “As Activities Director, I knew I needed to be with our residents. They were in an unknown place.”

Maintaining a routine for residents, some inflicted with Alzheimer’s or dementia, was paramount to Thomas.

“Those with Alzheimer’s or dementia have to have a routine,” Thomas said. “We don’t want them to be afraid and we wanted to keep everything as normal as possible.”

Thomas has been with Sabine Place for just over a year.

“It was very important to make sure they don’t see you nervous or worried,” Thomas said. “You have to keep it normal, their normal.”

She earned recognition for her relentless and compassionate assistance to residents of Sabine Place by receiving the Argentum 2018 Hero Award. She is one of three nationwide to receive the recognition.

Thomas, originally trapped in her own home by the storm’s record damaging floodwaters, quickly met up with Sabine Place’s residents at their first temporary housing solution as soon as the roads were cleared. She immediately began selflessly working 12- and 24-hour days, freeing her colleagues to attend to their own families and homes. To keep residents’ spirits up and health maintained, she also secured donations of clothing, basic personal items and even hot, home-cooked meals, according to a press release.

“We were in a Board Room of a hotel,” Thomas said. “We were fortunate to have volunteers bring us things paint, magazines, and even just visiting with us.”

Thomas said routines were the same as if the residents were still at Sabine Place.

“It was the same as here, just a different building.” Thomas said.

Repairs to Sabine Place would take nearly five months and Thomas consistently pulled in groups across the region to provide entertainment as well as provide important personal care like haircuts and styling. While staying at Enlivant sister community Rose Place, which was in need of its own life enrichment coordinator, Thomas took on double duty organizing events and activities for both communities.

“Lisa was with our residents virtually every day during the entire four-plus months they were displaced, putting them and their needs ahead of her own home’s challenges during this catastrophe,” said Doug Veazey, Enlivant’s Senior Vice President for the East Division. “She represents everything Enlivant strives for in how we care for our ‘family’ and we couldn’t be more pleased to see the spotlight fall on her and her actions.”

President, CEO, and others from the corporate headquarters flew down to assist in the days following Harvey. They witnessed first hand the dedication Thomas showed the residents.

“Lisa is a true hero and a perfect example of someone who goes above and beyond the normal call of duty to care for our residents,” said Enlivant Chief Executive Officer Jack R. Callison, Jr. “We are so pleased Lisa’s getting this much deserved recognition and I’m glad she’s a part of our Enlivant family.”

This is the fourth consecutive year an employee of Enlivant has risen to the top among the tens of thousands of the country’s senior living professionals.

“We are pleased to present this award and express our deepest appreciation to Lisa for her outstanding effort and compassionate service,” said James Balda, Argentum president & CEO. “Lisa and all the 2018 Argentum Heroes are exceptional role models for those serving across the industry and have shown the impact of working to make a difference in the lives of residents, staff, and families.”

Thomas said she is humbled and honored for the recognition but does not see herself as a hero.

“This is just me,” Thomas said. “I wanted to make sure our residents were ok. I was doing what our residents needed. It is what I do everyday.”