Today’s feature, Ina Brown, is truly a hero. A hero among many of the heroes in today’s pandemic world; however, she is not famous or in the lime light and many probably don’t even know her name.
Ina goes into work each day knowing there will be challenges; yet, she does so with an attitude that she is going to make the best of whatever is thrown her way. And not only does Ina try to make it the best day possible, she does so for those who have been in an almost isolated world since March 2020.
You see, Ina is the activities director for TLC Nursing Home. It is a job that she has held for 23 years and it’s a job she takes seriously — she absolutely loves what she does. Yes, this has likely been the most challenging year of her career, but Ina leaves work each day with a smile on her face because of those whose lives have been placed in her path while at TLC.
Some are long-term residents while others are rehab patients, but that doesn’t matter to Ina. She treats each one with utmost respect and does whatever she can to make their day just a little bit brighter. After all, “Laughter is the best medicine.”
Whether residents and patients are playing bingo, dominoes, or choose to stay in their room, Ina is there. Just a few days ago, Ina entered each hall of the facility, cranked up a CD player really loud with upbeat music and began rolling up and down the halls in a chair playing the spoons. You can imagine the looks, giggles, and laughs she got from the residents as they poked their heads out of their rooms.
Did Ina look silly? Probably, but that didn’t matter to her. She just wanted those who are isolated from the outside world to smile and laugh, even if it was just for a few short minutes.
But, not all saw humor in Ina’s performance. She noticed one resident didn’t come to the door, so Ina poked her head in to check on her. In the conversation, Ina asked if she had ever heard someone playing the spoons. The lady responded by saying she heard spoons being played in the past and said, “I didn’t like it then either.” Ina laughed and said you never know what will come out of the mouths of these more mature babes.
Over the last 11 months, it has been difficult to keep within CDC guidelines, but you can be rest assured that Ina and staff have gone out of their way to make the isolation as good as they can. From staff parades down the halls to hallway games and in-room activities to video phone visits and window visits, residents have had many opportunities to socialize all while still abiding by the state’s social distancing guidelines.
Ina has dug deep into her costume closet more than once to enhance many of these fun activities. After all, who doesn’t like silly hats and cow costumes?
As the months have passed, residents have begun to see some of the restrictions lifted, and Ina is helping to get things back to a somewhat normal atmosphere. Eating in the cafeteria and playing games there have recently begun again. There can only be one person at a table to stay within regulations, but roommates can sit at the same table. Everyone is eagerly awaiting the day when families can once again visit their loved ones inside the facility.
Outside of her career, Ina’s life revolves around her family. Family is something that she does not take for granted and almost everything outside of work includes family.
Ina and husband Boyd will soon celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. Will they have a romantic getaway? Well, not exactly. They will celebrate this special time with their three children and their grandchildren, ranging from 1 to 17 years old, at Tybee Island. And that is just how Ina wants it.
All of the family attends church together at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church. Before church each Sunday morning, Ina is up early preparing for the traditional family Sunday meal. She painstakingly prepares each dish, including dessert, with love. With a family member having celiac disease and another having allergies, she is careful to prepare a home cooked meal that everyone can enjoy. After lunch, the family spends the afternoon together enjoying each other’s company.
Ina grew up with five brothers and sisters. Even today, she almost always has a daily telephone call with them.
A graduate of Cleveland High School, Ina and classmates will soon celebrate their 40th class reunion. While in school, she was quite an athlete. Ina was a member of the school’s first women’s basketball team. She also ran track and played softball. During her high school days, Ina earned a host of awards and accolades including three bronze medals, Most Athletic, and Class Clown.
Being a stellar athlete, Ina had two scholarship offers, but she turned them down to get married. And she did not wait. Ina graduated on May 29 and got married on June 6. Since that time, she and Boyd have only spent one night apart, and that was due to a sleep study Ina had done.
After high school, Ina wanted to open up her own daycare or work through the board of education with children who had disabilities. Long story short, that did not pan out and she began caring for a 63-year-old quadriplegic. Soon Ina was working as a CNA and loved it.
After falling and breaking her shoulder, Ina found herself without a job after recovery. She was encouraged to apply at another facility for an assistant activities director position. It was perfect for Ina. Five years later she had the opportunity to apply for a similar position at TLC. After holding the TLC position for two years, the activities director position opened up. Ina applied and got the job.
Ina became state certified, and at the age of 45, she went to college to become nationally certified. Looking back, Ina now understands why God kept closing doors that she was trying to open. It wasn’t until she stood still and let God move that she found her niche.
When Ina has down time, she enjoys drawing and painting. Her two favorite mediums are pastel chalks and black and white charcoal. Her creativity also includes making flower arrangements. And, don’t be surprised if you see Ina and hubby riding the streets sight-seeing in their street legal 1955 purple dune buggy that Boyd and Ina refurbished.
Ina loves life. She loves people. And, she loves trying to make the world a better place for people. Ina is truly a hero!