A short conversation with Rhonda Breedlove will reveal that, at barely five feet tall, she is an enormous ball of passion and compassion when it comes to helping others.
Breedlove has been social services director at Sequoyah Manor Nursing Home in Sallisaw since June 26. But that is just her latest journey into helping those who need help helping themselves.
She began her career as a therapist at Hot Springs Community Health Center, and over the years she has been a counselor for Arkansas State Rehabilitative Services and Arkansas State Office of Youth Services. She was also program director for On Our Own, a program for developmentally disabled adults, coordinating both residential and direct care.
Breedlove has been the program director for Arkansas Easter Seals providing services for adults and children with disabilities. She was intake coordinator for Vista Behavioral Health and Springwoods Behavioral Health in Fayetteville, was also the mobile evaluator for Mountain Gateway Behavioral Health, an acute geriatric hospital for patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Breedlove has also been active in community projects and organizations including Hot Springs Junior Auxiliary where she is past president, and she served 10 years on the Lakeside School Board in Hot Springs.
She was a board member of the River Valley Life Corporation in Fort Smith, and is a member of the Senior Care Alliance of Fort Smith and an active member of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Breedlove will confess, “I’m very passionate about what I do. If you commit, you do it with passion.”
Caring for others in her career and as a volunteer is an important part of Breedlove’s life
“We all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect,” she said.
And that is her goal at Sequoyah Manor.
Breedlove said her duties at the manor are “to make sure the residents’ emotional and physical needs are met.”
She added, “I try to make sure they are loved and cared for. It’s amazing what a hug and a kind word can do.”
Breedlove also keeps them busy. The residents’ daily amusements include bingo and other games, exercises, and beauticians for nail and hair care. In addition, church and other groups often visit to sing for the residents, hold services, and provide a monthly birthday cake for all who celebrated that month.
Holidays are not forgotten either. Breedlove and the nursing home recently held a Halloween carnival for children and residents. About 100 children lightened up the evening for the residents, Breedlove said. During the past year the residents were able to go on field trips to Sequoyah’s Cabin and to see Christmas lights, were treated to a spring fling, a July 4 cookout and the annual Fish Fry, and were able to participate in their own Senior Olympics.
Upcoming events include a Thanksgiving dinner for residents and their families on Nov. 21. On the same day the manor will unveil their Angel Tree to provide gifts for residents. Gifts must be returned to the manor by Dec. 15.
On Dec. 9, be on the lookout for manor residents in the annual Sallisaw Christmas parade. Breedlove said the residents will be illustrating the theme “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” on their float. A Christmas dinner and other holiday events are in the planning stage.
“We appreciate the volunteers so much. It means a lot to the residents to know that someone is interested in them,” Breedlove said.
Breedlove also heads up a nursing home residents council that meets once a month.
“They voice their concerns and opinion, and mostly tell me they want more bingo,” Breedlove said with a grin.
The manor also has a 24-bed Alzheimer’s unit, about which Breedlove is passionate.
“My desire is to have an Alzheimer’s support group and family council for everyone. I can do in-service on Alzheimer’s,” Breedlove explained. She is active in a Fort Smith Alzheimer’s organization on her own time.
Breedlove, 67, said she has no plans to retire.
“Staying active and keeping your mind as active as you can is important,” she said.
Breedlove would like to share her passion, and hopes to get the community more involved with Sequoyah Manor residents.
She said, “That’s what I want to do here. I think everyone has something to give back to their community. They just have to find out what it is.”
To learn more about Sequoyah Manor activities, or to volunteer call Breedlove at 918-775-4881.
Breedlove is married, has two children, two step-children and three grandchildren.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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