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Inspiring People in our Region: Gloria Sanders, Service Coordinator - St. Luke’s Housing Authority

“I think much can be gained by each generation if seniors are held in the high esteem that they deserve.”

Gloria Sanders
Service Coordinator, St. Luke’s Housing Authority
Nashville, TN

What is your position?
My position is Service Coordinator for (2) senior housing complexes. My position is immensely gratifying in that I get to help seniors solve problems and enhance the quality of life by preventing unnecessary hospitalizations and nursing home placements.

Is there something in your own personal story that led you to do the work you do?
I always enjoyed my grandmother and her friends, and I have always liked the company of my elders. I never get tired of hearing about the history they have witnessed and experienced. I think much can be gained by each generation if seniors are held in the high esteem that they deserve.

What do you love most about your outreach work?
I love being around my residents, listening to their stories, and finding resources that will improve the quality of their lives. My motto is “make it happen.” When I see a potential resource for my residents, I investigate and talk to the “powers that be.”  Then, I figure out what can be done to “make this happen” in my community.

What is the biggest challenge in what you do?
The biggest challenge I face on a daily basis is helping seniors overcome obstacles based on resistance to learning new things.

What has been the most fulfilling part of your work in terms of health outreach to your community’s underserved populations?
It is always fulfilling to me to empower a senior with information, and to witness them share that information with another senior.

What do you see as the biggest health concerns in the communities you serve?

The biggest health concerns in my community are lack of health education. My seniors need to learn the warning signs of various life-threatening events. Too often they endure unnecessary pain and other adverse symptoms because they do not seek routine medical care in a timely manner.

How did you first come to know NN/LM SE/A?
While browsing the Internet for health-related informational resources, I found NN/LM SE/A and contacted Nancy Patterson. She has been a great source of information and inspiration.

In what ways has NN/LM SE/A been of help to you?
NN/LM SE/A has been a great asset to me and the residents I serve because the health information available is very necessary. Nancy came to speak to my residents and provided timely information that made my residents feel special. The attendance was high because the residents need and want health information. They felt valued because Nancy flew from Maryland to Tennessee to deliver information to them.

Can you share a success story about the impact of health outreach in your community?
Health outreach in my community begins with one person sharing information with another. This form of communication has been largely word of mouth, but I would like to spread this information in a more formal setting. A success story is the award that my property is to receive from NN/LM SE/A to establish a formal learning environment complete with computers to teach seniors various health topics. This information will empower the seniors to become confident about recognizing symptoms that require immediate medical attention. This knowledge will also lessen the need for emergent care and ambulance transportation. My residents will learn how to ask pertinent questions during medical visits.

What advice would you give others who are interested in doing health outreach work in their communities?
Know your target audience and be patient. Sometimes a fear of failure will immobilize people, so be VERY encouraging. Because I work with seniors, it was very helpful for me to understand their mindset. This includes the reluctance to try new things. Some may be considered computer phobic, or “set in their ways.”  I have had seniors tell me that their best days were behind them. I try to encourage and motivate my residents to try new experiences and go to places they have never visited. Once you have overcome the initial obstacles and gained the trust of your seniors, it gets easier for them to try new things.

If you would like to share your story or suggest another person for our “Inspiring People” feature, please email Nancy Patterson:  npatters@hshsl.umaryland.edu

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