Peggy Widmer named North Dakota Activities Professional of the Year – Jamestown Sun

Peggy Widmer, activities director at SMP Health – Ave Maria in Jamestown, was named North Dakota Activities Professional of the Year.

Widmer began working at Ave Maria in 1984 as a chef in the nutrition department. She joined the Activities/Social Services Department in 1996. Because of her work ethic, natural leadership skills and positive attitude, she was promoted to other positions including neighborhood coordinator and ultimately activities director. 2024 will be her 40th year of service to long-term care residents.

Widmer said her drive is to meet residents' needs and exceed their expectations. “She is resident-centered, compassionate and the epitome of a true servant leader for her activities team,” said Tonie Stoen, CEO/Administrator of SMP Health – Ave Maria.

Widmer said she is always looking for inspiration for new, exciting and purposeful activities for residents. Notable activities she has supported include a drive-in movie, a camping night (with grilled hot dogs and a makeshift fire), a personalized red carpet resident recognition event attended by all 100 residents, New Year's Eve karaoke, and a farmers' meeting 'market where residents sampled various preserves and jams.

Widmer also recently led a house choir of about 25 residents through weekly rehearsals from October to December 2023, ending with a residents' Christmas concert for family and friends.

Widmer often sits at the bedside of deceased residents and sings songs of comfort and peace. She said she started doing this years ago and reminds nursing staff to page her when needed. She dressed up and made one-on-one visits to COVID-positive residents many times during the height of the COVID pandemic, Stoen said. When morale was low, she cooked flatbread and knoephla soup for the entire staff.

“Peggy wholeheartedly goes above and beyond the duties listed in her job description,” Stoen said. “It is difficult to convey in words all of Peggy’s contributions to the health and therapeutic care of residents over the past decades and to convey the impact of her work and her sincere commitment to her role.”

Widmer has been nominated for the NDLTCA Caregiver of the Year award multiple times over the years by residents and their families. She co-developed a website that can be used by activity professionals in long-term care. Widmer mentors other activity professionals in the state and provides advice and recommendations to improve their activity planning.

Widmer lives just outside of Jamestown with her husband, Bryan.

Anna Harden

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