Editor’s note: Our series On the Front Lines recognizes those in the community who are confronting the coronavirus pandemic head-on, while the rest of us do our part by stepping back.
“Mother Nature continues no matter what’s going on in the world,” said Saskia Clark, a longtime gardener at Touchmark, a senior living community on Spokane’s South Hill.
Clark is starting her 11th season at Touchmark, where she keeps the grounds feeling like home.
Touchmark has a variety of housing and health care options for seniors, including cottages, apartments, memory care and assisted living.
After working at Touchmark for more than a decade, Clark said she has become friends with many of the residents.
“It’s a super friendly community, super active,” she said. “That part has changed a lot since all this took place.”
Normally, residents walk the grounds and sit outside.
Not so following orders for Washington residents to stay home.
“Since this COVID took place, it’s just really quiet,” Clark said. “I really miss the interaction with the residents a lot.”
Clark’s job changes with the seasons, but what doesn’t change is her friendships with the residents.
“You kind of get to the point where they’ll come up and give you a hug when they see you,” she said.
Being isolated is hard on the residents, Clark said.
“I think the ones that I’ve talked to have the attitude that they’re also trying to stay positive,” she said. “You can get bogged down in some of the worry and the fear.”
Clark and three part-time gardeners tend to the flower beds all over campus and a memorial rose garden. They also help with residents’ community gardens.
“That means a lot to people that used to have vegetable gardens,” Clark said.
She’s just starting this year’s planting and some bulbs are popping up. But Clark said she is excited for when the real planting begins around Mother’s Day.
“Spring is taking place, so I think it’s just a good, positive thing,” she said.
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