Looking to change up your exercise routine? How about cardio drumming?
“You hit a big ball,” says Activities Coordinator Diomaris Pumarol. “We play music from the ‘50s and ‘60s that residents connect with and they drum along.”
The cardio drumming is one example of how Diomaris brings boundless energy and imagination to find ways to keep residents active, personalizing activities to meet their interests and capabilities.
“My main interest is to keep the residents doing things that bring happiness to them,” says Diomaris, who joined Homeland in late 2019. ”It doesn’t feel like a job – working at Homeland fills my heart.’’
Diomaris initially trained as an accountant and, for much of her career, worked in financial services. But a move to the United States from her native Dominican Republic seven years ago inspired a change.
It all began when Diomaris’ daughter married a man from Hershey. Diomaris and her husband visited the area several times and decided they wanted to be around when grandkids started to arrive.
The move inspired her to seek a job “filling my heart;” this she found as an activity assistant at an area nursing home. When she joined the Homeland staff, she discovered a workplace that she genuinely loves.
“How can I change people’s lives? Just by giving them a little bit of attention,’’ she says. “Maybe someone is tired, but you engage that person in an activity, and at the end of the day, they tell you they had a wonderful day and say thank you.”
The Wednesday drumming sessions came about because Diomaris wanted to spice up the Homeland morning exercise class. Instead of doing the same workouts every day, participating residents now have varied sessions, depending on the day.
“I try to keep them busy according to their interests,” she says. “Some residents love to help. When we cook, everybody does something – read instructions, read the package, beat the eggs. It’s teamwork.”
A Friday “happy hour” may feature a bit of armchair traveling, with the residents taking a vicarious trip to France or Italy, enjoying the countries' food and drink. One recent happy hour fell on Dominican Independence Day, so Diomaris displayed photos, and residents had a chance to eat empanadas and yuca. She even did a little dance from her home country, and two residents who had been to the Dominican shared their memories.
Outside of work, Diomaris tracks time as “before and after the grandson.” She and her husband, Jerry Perez, go to church on Sundays, and they once loved to go out on weekends and enjoy good music. Now, with their grandson in the picture, “everything goes around him,” with visits to parks and zoos.
At Homeland, Diomaris cherishes her role in a team devoted to creating a full roster of fun activities every day.
“Homeland is the best place I’ve ever seen,” she says. “All the staff care about residents. You can see they like what they do.”