With busy schedules and families living in distant places, it’s not often that three or even four generations gather to enjoy a meal together. But that’s exactly what happens every month at Battle Ground’s Creekside Place Assisted Living Community.
On the second Wednesday of each month, Creekside Place hosts a Family Night, where residents can invite their family members to join them for dinner. The events often have a theme for the month’s holiday, and the halls of Creekside Place were decked with festive holiday adornments for Christmas at the December dinner. Sometimes there is music, or other entertainment.
On this night, Raymond Washbond, a resident at Creekside Place, dressed as Santa. Resident Betty Prew sewed a colorful fleece bag for Santa, which was brimming with candy for visitors.
“I grew a beard so they told me I had to be Santa!” Washbond said.
The cozy dining room was lively with conversation, and tables were set up with “reserved” tags for each group of visitors. Community Relations Manager Laura Matthews poured wine.
“We always have beer and wine,” said Matthews. “It’s a special occasion.”
Each month features a festive theme. The October dinner celebrated Oktoberfest, with Bratwurst, beer, and pretzels.
Family Night is meant to help maintain contact with family for the residents at Creekside Place. They encourage family to come, visit, and have a meal.
Violet Karhonen enjoyed a visit from her daughter, Diane Hansen, and her granddaughter, Kim Reed, both of Vancouver. They come every month, said Hansen. She emphasized how much residents of Creekside Place enjoy having people from the community coming to visit.
Karhonen is a lifelong resident of Battle Ground. She said she was raised by her grandfather from the age of two after her mother died.
Duane Kosky enjoys telling stories about his days flying float planes in Alaska. He suffered an injury in 1998 which left him needing assistance with daily living. His former wife, Nancy Kosky, comes to family night most months, he said.
“It’s nice to have someone else cook!” he said with a laugh.
Betty Prew enjoyed a meal with her family after a lifetime of cooking for everyone else. A native of Battle Ground, she was a cook at Tiger Bowl bowling alley, at a Battle Ground hamburger joint called Toby’s, and at the city jail.
Two-year-old Braak Neshnes is a regular at family night to visit his great-grandmother, Molly Wells, and for many visits in between events. He had a regular route he made, lapping the circular hallway on his toddler legs.
Janet Johnson visits her husband of 59 years, Frank Johnson, every day, she said. She makes sure she is there at 4 p.m. to make him his martini, just the way he likes it. Other family members each have their regular days to visit as well. There were five of them there for family night — someone always comes for the monthly event, they said.
The dinner hour passes quickly and guests start to say their goodbyes. The youngest visitors are tired, the cookie plate has been passed, and the wine bottle is almost empty.
At Creekside Place, helping residents stay engaged with their families and with the community is a high priority, said Matthews. Sometimes residents are forgotten in families’ busy schedules, or family lives far away. But those visits are very special to residents at the assisted living center.
An Adopt-a-Grandparent at Battle Ground High School pairs high school students with residents. Some choose to visit far more than their program hours require, said Matthews.
For Veterans Day, residents who are veterans visited Battle Ground High School to talk with students.
Matthews hopes that people will think of Creekside Place and come to visit.