Beautician Lesa Whiteley thoroughly enjoys her position at Topeka Presbyterian Manor’s Assisted Living Beauty Shop. But to be honest, she doesn’t really see it as a job.
“I have all the grandparents I could wish for. I’m a grandparent junkie,” said Lesa. “It’s not a job; it’s my therapy. I don’t have any grandparents left, and it makes me feel good to help others.”
This altruistic nature runs in Lesa’s family, as evidenced through her aunt, Mary Luney. Mary lives in Gypsum, more than a hundred miles from Topeka. But that doesn’t stop her from feeling connected to her niece Lesa and all the residents Lesa loves to care for.
“My aunt’s been making wheelchair quilts and donating them to residents. She’s also getting ready to make some walker bags. She just does it out of the love of her heart. I also work at Aldersgate, and she sends them there, too. Ever since my uncle passed away, she has a lot of time on her hands, and this is what she enjoys doing — helping others.”
Mary’s quilts are made from old scrub tops, perhaps a nod to the caring nature of nurses.
“She’s always made things for other people. She comes up with new ideas for things all the time. She’s had two types of cancer she’s survived. If someone she knows, or even someone she doesn’t know, is diagnosed with cancer, she makes a notebook cover, and gives it to them with a notebook and matching pen. She tells them that every time they think of a question, they should write it down and take it to their doctor.”
Mary hasn’t had the opportunity to meet any of the residents who are enjoying her quilts, but her son Travis has. “Mary’s son Travis was here, and he really hit it off with resident Evelyn Anderson. He called his mom and said, ‘I need a quilt for my new buddy, one with a Nebraska theme.’ A month later she had it made, and he gave it to Evelyn. Evelyn and Travis were automatically best buddies.”
We’re so grateful to have Lesa not only care for residents’ beauty needs, but for their hearts and emotional needs as well. “My aunt Mary is an angel herself. She’s the sweetest person and very giving. I’m just here to help her give to everyone else. She’s probably made way more than 200 quilts, and she made every niece and nephew a quilt when they got married,” said Lesa. “I’m a quilter myself, and my mom always said I should have been Mary’s daughter, we were so much alike!”