For the past six years, Activities Director Bill Owen has brought joy, fulfillment and fun to the Sister residents living in Mother Margaret Hall (MMH) nursing facility at Mount St. Joseph. Since his first days at MMH, Bill has strived to engage all Sisters and meet their needs with a variety of activities and excursions planned weekly.
With a background in graphic arts, Bill uses his creativity to plan and implement activities that all Sisters can enjoy. “Imagine being told you can’t do something you used to like to do,” he says, “and how hurtful that could be. They are already sad that their bodies are declining; their minds are telling them one thing and their bodies are saying something else. I always try to find a way to make things happen. For example, a Sister may love and miss visiting the beach. I’ll take them outside on the patio, serve them margaritas and create the atmosphere that they are sitting ocean side.”
Outings have proven to be a popular activity with the Sisters. From dining out, to an afternoon watching the skiers at Perfect North Slopes, to a day trip at Lake Lorelei, there is no limit on Bill’s ability to keep Sisters active. One of his favorite outings is taking the Sisters shopping. Seeing their joy, playfulness and independence as they walk through the aisles and pick out items for themselves and others brings him delight. “I try to make it an experience for them,” he says. “Usually it’s not just a trip to Target or the grocery store, we grab a coffee and have lunch out as well. It’s fun watching them enjoy themselves.”
In addition, activities within the walls of MMH have brought the Sisters hours of delight. Some of their favorites include painting and Wii bowling. “We always get a big crowd for those activities,” he says. Being an artist himself, Bill loves to share his gifts with the Sisters and particularly appreciates seeing their process of learning. “The biggest compliment I received was someone made a comment that we would have to mark which painting was mine because you couldn’t tell the difference.”
The time spent together is also treasured and allows for Bill to learn more about their rich lives and ministries. “Painting can last a few hours and the time flies,” he says. “It’s a time to unwind and just chat. I enjoy the stories, the relationships and the Sisters. We all have a good time.”
One particular relationship is especially dear to Bill’s heart. He and S. Barbara Padilla sparked a friendship from the start. It began during outings, when Bill took her under his wing and would help her with her shopping and other needs, and grew from there. “Barbara is such a great person. I enjoy spending time with her. We joke around and have a lot of fun together,” he says. “I make sure she joins me on my outings. And he always saves a seat for me on the bus. It’s nice to be appreciated.”
As he reflects on his six years with the Sisters of Charity, and his approaching employee anniversary on May 12, it is clear Bill considers his position as Activities Director as much more than work. Using his creativity and zest for life, he embraces the relationships he has formed and values the individual Sister for who she is. His appreciation for their lives enables him to plan activities that are fulfilling and energizing to Sisters’ minds and bodies. As the late S. Irene Luther once said, “There’s nothing that man can’t do.” When it comes to the Sisters, there really is nothing Bill Owen won’t try to do to make their lives as enriching and enjoyable as possible.