CULLMAN, Ala.– The residents of Woodland Haus in Cullman lined Main Street outside of their facility Friday afternoon to celebrate 365 days of being COVID-19-free. It was a gorgeous afternoon for the residents to be outside and wave at those passing by, who honked and waved back enthusiastically.
Woodland Haus Administrator Mary Briscoe joined the residents for the fun celebration. The facility has been able to remain free of COVID-19, and many of the residents The Tribune spoke to credited Briscoe’s leadership and the staff’s excellent care.
Briscoe said, “I told them, if we make it 365 days, we are going to go outside and wave, so that’s what they wanted to do.”
The staff and residents of Woodland Haus had special T-shirts made, with help from Comfort Care, for the remarkable milestone that read, “Making the Impossible Possible-365 Days of Covid-Free Residents.” They also placed signs and balloons alongside Main Street to invite passing motorists to join them in celebrating. Almost every car on a very busy afternoon slowed down to enjoy a moment with the seniors who have been mostly out of sight during this ongoing pandemic.
Briscoe knows the year has been tough, but she said, “My reward is their health and them being happy and out here waving at everybody.”
The waving gained the attention of their neighbors at Cullman’s Dairy Queen resulting in owner Samantha Way and staff from the restaurant delivering three delicious ice cream cakes for everyone to enjoy. The cakes had messages of “Covid Free,” “Way to Go” and “We Love Y’all.”
Briscoe said of her residents, “All of them have missed birthdays, holidays and more. Yes, they had the option to go. We educated and went over all the important points and some had the chance to go live with other family members, but they wanted to stay home. This is THEIR house. We are all family here and they love one another and watch over one another like family.”
Clara Porter, a resident of Woodland Haus, smiled as the cars honked and said hello. She said it has been a long time since she was able to sit outside and was thrilled that the weather was so beautiful. Her friend Sara Melson was also very excited and waved at every car that passed by.
Melson kept busy over the past year; she said, “I made cards and sometimes I just cut pictures out of magazines to make cards with them. I also recycle some of the cards I get to give to friends and other residents. It has been wonderful that we haven’t had any COVID. That’s the reason we are celebrating today because we have been so victorious.”
Every resident who spoke to The Tribune was touched by the show of support from the public as they passed by. They also complimented the staff of Woodland Haus.
One resident said, “They are doing a wonderful job. It was her (Briscoe) that kept us from being sick. She laid down the rules and it wasn’t easy, but this is the payoff.”
One of the signs made for Friday’s celebration had special meaning for the residents and staff. Briscoe explained, “The chalkboard that hangs in our dining room, we wrote this verse on it on March 6 when everything stopped. It still to this day looks like it is freshly written. It’s something they read every day, and we honestly believe it is what kept us safe.”
God keep your hands of protection around us all. Deuteronomy 31:6
“We’ve all said that it is God. It is God that kept them safe and that was my prayer.”
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