SUNNYSIDE — For just over a year, Jana Bell, Sunnyside Assisted Living Executive Director has commuted more than 100 miles each day, Tri-Cities to Sunnyside, to meet with her welcome committee, advisors and former community authority figures. She is also going to work, “. . . but let’s not call it work,” says, Bell, “Let’s call it a coming home when I come to work.”
The Sunnyside graduate, former certified nursing assistant and office manager for senior communities in Sunnyside and Tri-Cities area, had an epiphany one day and acted. She left the behind the scenes office setting to become credentialed by Washington State to manage both assisted living and skilled living communities. To say it’s been a labor of love, would be an understatement.
Bell, mother of two sons and one daughter, and grandma to three grands, loves her work in a way which completely aligns with her values.
“It’s an honor to care for these people. It is my hometown. Some of them, actually looked out for me, as a ‘mischievous youth,’ here in Sunnyside,” said Bell, using air quotes and a big smile.
In a world which can feel harsh due to the seriousness of the duties, there is always concern, but Bell thrives.
She has a circle of seniors in the lunchroom, who serve as her “advice table.” According to Bell, these are a serious group of problem solvers.
“We brainstorm our way through things. Last week I heard we needed to get melon on the salad bar, this week we have melon,” said Bell.
The melon, which Bell described, was one her latest innovations to support good health and create a slice of home, was an offering on a wheelchair accessible salad bar.
The creativity does not begin or end at the salad bar. The vivacious roster of calendar activities are testament to her passion for her people.
Weekly outings to restaurants are on the busy schedule. A recent field trip to Legends’ for play, was very popular, according to Bell, as were the burgers at Miners’.
The work, while all-consuming, is a homecoming than anything else, said Bell. “My family has many roots here, I am so very happy to be serving my people,” said Bell.