Jason Parker interviews Paula Rimmer about the 125 year anniversary of Martha & Mary.
Paula Rimmer is Director of Development at Martha & Mary in Poulsbo, WA, a position she’s held since 2011. A Bainbridge Island resident since 2004, she’s lived in the Seattle area since 1986, and previously lived in Chicago. She’s a native Iowan, but after almost 30 years in the Northwest, this is home. Her career in fundraising has allowed her to work with many different nonprofits, and she’s served in major gifts and planned giving roles with Seattle Opera, Seattle Art Museum, and the Henry Art Gallery, among others (or you could say major cultural organizations in Seattle.) Music and singing are life-long passions, and she performs with the Bainbridge Chorale as well as serving on their Board, and she is a member of the Seattle Opera Guild Board. Gardening, her Australian Shepherd Izzy, travel, anything cultural, and time with friends are all important pastimes.
To learn more about Martha & Mary please visit www.marthaandmary.org
Below is the full transcript:
Announcer: Welcome back, America to Sound Retirement Radio. Where we bring you concepts, ideas, and strategies designed to help you achieve clarity, confidence and freedom. As you prepare for, and transition through retirement. Now, here is your host Jason Parker.
Jason: America, Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Gig Harbor, all the good people here in Kitsap County, welcome back to another round of Sound Retirement Radio. I am so grateful that you are tuning in to our program, and I have to tell you, I just spent some time with somebody that’s been listening to the program, they’ve read my book, they’re on the other side of the country, and just had so many wonderful nice things to say, and that just makes my day. I really, really appreciate the positive feedback that you folks share with me. Thank you for that.
As you know, when we get started with this program, we like to do 2 things. The first one is renew our minds, and I have a verse here from Luke 12:35, 12:36. “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning. As though you are waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then, you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks.” That’s incredible. Can you imagine opening the door from that knock? That would just be amazing.
The next thing that I like to do is have a little bit of fun, and we’re always looking for a joke that we can bring on. Given that this is the political season, and we’re in the middle of an election, I’ve got a political joke for you, so hopefully don’t offend too many people with this one. It says, “Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They both should be changed regularly and for the same reason.” Oh man, that cracks me up.
All right, so we’re going to get started with the program. You are listening to episode 076, and I have the very good fortune to bring Paula Rimmer onto the program with us. I’ll give you a quick bio here. Paula Rimmer is Director of Development at Martha and Mary in Poulsbo, Washington. A position she’s held since 2011. A Bambridge Island resident since 2004, she’s lived in the Seattle area since 1986, and then previously she lived in Chicago. She’s a native from Iowa, but after almost 30 years in the North West, this is where she considers her home.
Her career is in fundraising, and that’s allowed her to work with a lot of different non-profits. She’s had the opportunity to work with the Seattle Opera, Seattle Art Museum, The Henry Art Gallery, among others. Music and singing are her life long passions, and she has the opportunity to preform. Maybe we’ll find out a little bit more about that. She enjoys gardening and she has an Australian Shepard. Paula Rimmer, welcome to Sound Retirement Radio.
Paula: Thank you, Jason. I’m delighted to be here.
Jason: I appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule. I want to share with our listeners a quick story, before we get into Martha and Mary and the 125th anniversary, and the work that you do. Some of our listeners may know that my wife’s dad, my father in-law, he’s in a nursing home. He’s at Martha and Mary right now. Martha and Mary, they do a lot of things in our community from helping with childcare, all the way to assisted living, and senior living, and nursing home. We’ve had such a wonderful experience. The other day my son and I, my son’s 10, we were at Martha and Mary and we were visiting my father in-law, and we were watching the football game. Watching the Sea Hawks win, I love watching them win.
My son was kind of sitting across the other side of the room, and he was looking around and as we walked out of there that day he said, “Dad, I was looking at a lot of those people,” and he said, “I realize that they were once like I was. They were young and they used to be able to run fast, and jump high.” I put my arm around his shoulder and I said, “You’re right, Oliver.”
That was a light bulb moment for me, because it was in that moment that I realized that protecting resources like a place like Martha and Mary, it’s not just about providing for our parents. Which is important. It’s not just about thinking ahead for ourselves, to make sure that we have a nice place. Long after I’m gone, one day, my kids may get to experience the benefit of a place like Martha and Mary. I want that to be a first class experience. Paula, that’s one of the reasons I was excited to bring you onto this program, because that’s what you help do. If you’ll take a minute and just fill in some of the blanks there, and share with our listeners who is Martha and Mary from your perspective, and then what do you do for them?
Paula: Okay, great. Martha and Mary has been a charity in the Kitsap area since 1891. In fact in 2016, as you mentioned Jason, is our 125th anniversary and we are really excited about that. When you think about the West Coast, and how long organizations have been operating in this part of the country, 125 years is a long time. I moved to Seattle in 1986, and shortly thereafter, Washington State had it’s 100th anniversary. We are really one of those heritage organizations, and we started basically to fill a community need, and we have continued to fill needs as they have evolved since that time.
We were founded by a Pastor from what is now First Lutheran Church. There was a real need to take care of children whose parents were either off in the lumber or fishing industry, and had to leave for long periods of time. Perhaps a family had lost a parent, and the other parent needed to work and there was just no one to take care of the kids. They began offering child care, basically, full time child care for kids whose parents were not available, and continued to do that in some kind of form for many years.
In 1950’s, they actually transitioned into senior health care and housing. The campus that a lot of people know as Martha and Mary, the campus here in Poulsbo on Front Street, which is our skilled nursing facility, or nursing home was construction shortly thereafter.
In the 1980’s, we began offering child care again, and since that time we’ve diversified our services. We’ve moved into in-home care, we’ve also added additional independent living, and assisted living services. Then, we continued to explore ways that we can meet the needs of the community as the senior health care and housing environment changes. It’s a pretty dynamic environment that we’re in right now.
My role at Martha and Mary is as the Development officer, so I do fundraising. You may ask yourself, “Why is fundraising important for an organization like ours.” Most people know the kinds of services that we provide, there are funding sources that provide that. Either the government, private insurance, Medicare, Medicade. There’s lots of different ways that people pay for these kinds of services.
The reason community support is really important to us comes down to mission. Martha and Mary’s mission is to serve all, regardless of background, creed, of economic status, social status. What that means is that we serve a high percentage of people who really don’t have enough resources, and the government helps them with their care, but it really doesn’t cover the full cost of care.
Jason: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Paula: Which is pretty common in government programs. Contributions, community support, volunteers, the whole gamut really allow us to provide a quality of care across the boards for everybody, and a quality of care at the level that we believe is critical.
Jason: It’s an awesome, awesome service. We are experiencing it first hand in our family, and we are so impressed with the compassion and just the quality of people. It’s really, really been a great experience. Having somebody you care about in a nursing home, for anybody, you hope you never end up in that type of a situation.
Paula: You got it.
Jason: It could be a heck of a lot worse if the conditions or the care wasn’t available to them. I want to highlight the 125th anniversary, because I really think it is special what Martha and Mary, who they are and what you do for our community. Before we get there, when we had an opportunity to speak one on one, you shared with me, kind of, this story that you had when your mom needed care. Just how it felt when you were able to find a place for her. Would you maybe share with our listeners, because you’re not just working in this industry because this is a job. You’ve had first hand experience of what it means to have somebody care about needed care. Would you share with our listeners what that looked like?
Paula: Yeah, I’d be glad to, because that’s a lot of why I’m working here at Martha and Mary. I really wanted to work in senior services. My mom was having cognitive issues. My sister and I lived far away, we’re both on the West Coast, she was back in Iowa in the Mid-West, and she came to visit us during the holidays one year. Unfortunately, it was the last year of her life. She had a medical incident while she was here visiting us, and it went from one thing to another. Kind of from bad to worse. She ultimately ended up placed in a skilled nursing facility in the Seattle area. I have to say, I reflect on that situation a lot, because I think now knowing what I know, in terms of the kind of resources that are available to families, we were just pretty ignorant of that. What was really terrific is that she was accepted in a facility in the Seattle area. They took just great care of her. They were there caring for her until her last breath. My sister and I were both there to be with her.
What I learned through that experience was that there are a lot of resources, as I mentioned, now available to families. Especially to families who are far away from their loved ones. Most people don’t have that plan of what are we going to do when my parents need help, or I need help, or some other family member really needs assistance. What happens if somebody falls, which is what happened in my mom’s case. She fell and broke her hip. Cardiac event, or there’s some other health care event that happens and all of a sudden, you find yourself wondering what do we do next. We don’t know how to navigate the health care system necessarily. We don’t know how to navigate the senior health care and housing situation. You need to act fast.
Jason: It’s overwhelming. It’s absolutely overwhelming. I work in this industry. I’ve helped a lot of families through this process, so this wasn’t something new for me when long term care came up in our family. I have to tell you, it’s a different experience when you have to go through this, and it’s somebody that you care about, and you’re seeing the impact emotionally that it’s having on all the family members. You’re seeing how it’s impacting your spouse, your mother in-law, and your children, and you’re having Thanksgiving in a nursing home. It just really changes your perspective. I have to tell you, even though I have a lot of education and I know more about this than most people, one of the biggest mistakes I think we personally made was not looking for help soon enough.
Paula: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jason: My mother in-law kept telling us that everything was okay, and that she had it covered. We had some help coming into the house. We didn’t realize how far things had really progressed. Again, just really impressed with Martha and Mary. Paula, I appreciate you sharing that story, because I know it’s not easy. It does change your life, it does change your perspective, and it makes people want to do some better planning. I’m a big fan, in my book I have a big chapter on long term care insurance, and I know some people really don’t like that. I personally think it’s really important. I own a couple of long term insurance policies. Today’s episode, we’re not here talking about insurance as much we are Martha and Mary’s doing.
I want to get back to this 125th year celebration, because the other thing is Martha and Mary’s still in child care. I know you guys impact a lot of families, and people’s lives on that side of the spectrum. One of the things when I met with Chad Sulvy, he shared with me how you guys integrate both the child care and the seniors. You bring the kids into that environment so there’s that wisdom that’s being shared. Also, the energy and the joy of life in those little kids. I just think that’s really neat.
Paula: What we call it here at Martha and Mary is our intergenerational program. That’s a big word, but it’s actually a word that describes it well. In your opening remarks about your son and you watching the football game with your father in-law, you really touched on the impact that our intergenerational program has. The way that that works is because our child care centers in Poulsbo are in close proximity to our campus here, our health and rehab center campus. Every day there are small groups of children who come and spend time with, what they call, the grandmas and grandpas. They’ll come and do an activity together, sometimes it might be an art activity. Sometimes it might be songs, sometimes the children bring things to show and share, but they spend time with our residents.
It’s not something that just happens occasionally. It’s actually a core program for both our resident life services program, which is the program that provides a whole array of life engaging activities for our residents, and also it’s a core activity for the children in our child care program. We’re really proud of that, and we believe that it really fills a need for both children and for seniors. There’s a lot to be gained by bringing those two generations together.
Jason: We celebrated Thanksgiving at the nursing home with my father in-law, and the whole family was there. Afterwords, my mother in-law said to my daughter, who’s 8, she said because Jerry, my father in-law, he get this big smile on his face whenever the kids come in, he gets a big frown on his face when he sees me. I’m just kidding. When we bring the kids in he gets this big smile on his face, and my mother in-law said to my daughter, “you know, Libby, you guys are the best medicine.” Libby said, “What do you mean by that, grandma.” Grandma just kind of reached down and gave her a big hug and a kiss. It is really neat to see grandpa light up when the kids are there. I’m proud of that work that you guys are doing, and I think it’s very smart.
Let’s talk about this 125th celebration, the 125th year anniversary, and some of the highlights that you guys have planned for that.
Paula: We’re starting off a little quiet, because it is a whole year, and we don’t want to over saturate. You will start to see some information on ads and different kinds of materials that we are sharing with the community. The event that we are pointing to is our annual fundraiser, which takes place on April 30th, and that will be where we really kind of kick off the 125th anniversary celebration. We’ll really start to talk about it there. Shortly thereafter, we plan to have a major presence in the Viking Day Parade, and then Viking Days in May. May 30th is actually Martha and Mary’s anniversary, if you want to pick a day in the year where we would say that’s the moment to celebrate. We’ll have some celebrations at each of our campuses, and at each of our child care facilities to celebrate with our clients on that day.
There will be opportunities for people to share their Martha and Mary story. We’ll be reaching out into the community, because what many of us find, because we’ve been here for a 125 years, is a lot of people have had exposure to us. I can barely go to a gathering anywhere, and once I tell people I work for Martha and Mary, they typically have a story to share. Which is fabulous, but what we haven’t done is really capture that so we’re anxious to do that.
Jason: Actually, before you go one in September, I just wanted to put a note out to our community on that topic, because one of the things that I’m excited about is that we’re going to bring some folks into the studio here. I want to record some of those stories. I want to hear just short snippets about how Martha and Mary impacted their lives, and what the moment was like when they heard that their family was going to be able to receive that quality of care that they were looking for. Then, what it’s like to go through that transition, because I think that it is so important that people hear those real life stories.
Sometimes, Paula, what happens because this is a subject that people don’t like to talk about, and they don’t like to think that it’s ever going to happen to them, and it’s out of sight, so unless you humble yourself, and you take time out of your life to go and visit a place like Martha and Mary, or a nursing home, or assisted living you don’t see it. It’s not part of your every day existence, and so we need to make this a reality. We need people to be able to see that. If any of our listeners in the local community have had that experience with Martha and Mary, and you’d be willing to share your story, I want you to get in touch with us. Either by email, or phone just look up Sound Retirement Planning, or call Paula at Martha and Mary, and we’ll coordinate some of those interviews. I think that’d be great. Anyhow, I want to get back to your September … You had an event coming up at the end of September as well?
Paula: Right. Actually, it will be in mid-September, but I just want to just, quick, say I appreciate that shout out about stories, and what we really believe it’s just one of the best ways for us to talk about what we do. I can talk about features and benefits until I’m blue in the face, but what people, I think, really relate to is how did it work for somebody else, because you can see yourself in that. That’s really fabulous.
In mid-September, we will have, actually have, a big community open house. That will be the moment when we’ll have a big celebration of our 125th anniversary. The reason we’re delaying it until then is we’ve been doing a lot of refurbishing, and refreshing of our facility. We want to be able to show that off to the community. You’ll see a lot of information on that in the days ahead. We’ll wind down the year in November, we typically have a donor appreciation event, and we make a philanthropy award to one of our supporters. We will do that in a more robust way in November, and wrap the year.
Jason: All right.
Paula: We’re pretty excited about the opportunities that we’ll have along the way as we talk about our 125th anniversary to reflect back, but more importantly, I think, is to look forward. To talk about the Martha and Mary of today, and the vision that we have for the furture of caring for tomorrow.
Jason: Now, we only have a couple minutes left, I want to make sure that you share with our listeners, if they want more information, they want to learn more about Martha and Mary, where do they find you online, and what’s the best way to reach our to you, Paula?
Paula: Okay. We are available online at marthaandmary.org. That’s our website, in fact, our website is being refreshed, and will be renewed by February, I’m pretty sure. Anyway, you can find a lot of contact information there, our general phone number’s 360-779-7500. You can reach me at 360-394-4065, Paula Rimmer. I’m easy to find. Love to hear from your listeners, if they have any kind of questions about Martha and Mary, we’re happy to actually be a resource. Whether people use or need our services or immediate services or not, we’re happy to be a resource. We’re experts in child care and senior health care and housing.
Jason: Folks, this is Jason Parker. You’ve been listening to episode 076, and I’ve had Paula Rimmer on the program. Paula is Director of Development at Martha and Mary. She helps bring resources in so that the people that we care about can get really quality compassionate care, and it’s an amazing place. There’s a lot of very generous people in our community, and if your heart hasn’t been touched by the work that Martha and Mary’s doing, I encourage you to get involved and maybe go to a breakfast, or just listen to some of the work. Reach out to Paula and ask the best way for you to get involved to make a difference in people’s lives. It’s important work.
Paula Rimmer, thank you so much for being a guest on the program today.
Paula: Jason, thank you so much. I really appreciate this opportunity.
Jason: You’re welcome. Take care.
Paula: Thank you, you too.
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