‘We All Need This’: With COVID in Rearview, Care Center Celebrates in Centralia


The Sharon Care Center in Centralia held a senior fair on Friday as part of its celebration of National Nursing Home Week. The event provided residents, staff and their families with fun activities and the opportunity to meet animals following years of isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s just a week where we can pull out all the stops and get everyone involved,” said Tammy Vessey, the activities director at the Sharon Care Center. “Because of COVID-19, we wanted to have a great event where we could get the family in. … We’re at the tail end of (National Nursing Home Week) so we wanted to really go out with a bang.”

Among the activities held at the fair were face painting, “fishing” — an activity during which people put a fishing pole over a net and “catch” objects placed by an event helper — and balloon art by Ken Trombley. The event featured booths sponsored by Assured Hospice and Assured Home Health. 

Vessey said after the COVID-19 pandemic, the staff wanted to do something fun not only for the residents, but also for the nursing home’s staff, residents, their families and the public.  

“We all need this,” Vessey said.

One of the main attractions of the fair was Paso Doble, a 10-year-old miniature horse from Sonnybrier Farm in Elma. 

Dorothy Whiteman, Paso Doble’s owner, said she had been to Sharon Care with Paso Doble before.

“It’s a great way to spend a Friday afternoon,” Whiteman said.

Whiteman told The Chroniclehorses must be 38 inches or under at the back to be considered miniature, with Paso Doble standing at 36 inches. 

Throughout the week, Vessey and her staff put on activities for everyone to enjoy.

Vessey said the week started off on Monday with a pajama day and a chocolate chip cookie day. On Tuesday, the nursing home had a Hawaiian barbecue day, including a prepared meal for the residents. Wednesday was tie-dye day, which included snow cones and a hippie theme. Thursday was National Visit Your Relative Day, which Sharon Care celebrated by inviting families to visit and holding activities such as bingo. 

“We wanted to show people how much fun you can really have at a nursing home facility,” Vessey said.

Tom Argestes is a Sharon Care resident in his 70s. Originally from Everett, Argestes told The Chronicle the fair was the biggest event of the week.

“It’s wonderful everyone altogether. There’s a lot of events today,” Argestes said. “It makes you feel like you’re back in your younger days.”

Barbara Goodwin, 84, said every day of National Nursing Home Week had been fun. A former Chehalis resident who serves as the president of the Resident Council, Goodwin said they’ve been able to dress up each day. 

“The administration, they really figured out a fun week for us,” Goodwin said.

Sandra VanSant, 83, told The Chronicle the most fun part of the week for her was coming out and seeing all the activities on Friday. Originally from Vancouver, Washington, VanSant said the highlight of the day was getting to see Paso Doble.

Dale Olson, 76, said he had fun fishing, popping balloons and receiving face painting. 

“It’s nice, it’s fun,” said Olson, who is originally from San Francisco.

Martha Sweeney, an 81-year-old from Chehalis, said she enjoyed the fair the most of all the activities last week.

“This has been the most fun part of the week,” Sweeney said. “This has been very fun.”