February 15, 2024

Meet Cheryl Darisse, Activities Coordinator at Kaplan Estates

Cheryl Darisse with a resident

Cheryl Darisse thought she wanted be a nurse until, that is, she started leading activities at Legacy. From that moment on, Cheryl knew she was in the right job. For over 20 years Cheryl has been instrumental in spearheading such activities as exercise classes, word games, sporting games, monthly birthday parties, gardening, arts and crafts, and ice cream socials, among others. She even drives the bus to restaurant outings, singing all the way!

Growing up in Wellfleet on Cape Cod, Cheryl always loved being by the water. When she married her husband Norm, they moved to Salem, where they have lived for the last 45 years. With four children and six grandchildren, vacations are a priority. The family visits Aruba every year, takes frequent cruises, enjoys visiting the Caribbean islands, goes “glamping” and visits Disney with the grandchildren. Combined with Cheryl’s work at Legacy, she lives a full and happy life.

A typical day for Cheryl starts at 7am when she  serves the residents a nourishing, hot breakfast. “They tell me every morning what they would like and I fulfill all requests,” explained Cheryl. “Then it’s time for some lively and fun conversations” Cheryl remarked how refreshing it is to be around the Legacy residents. “I love working in memory care because the residents really say what they feel. Said Cheryl with a laugh, “My friends are very honest.”

Over the years Cheryl, a certified CNA, has attended numerous classes and training programs. This enables her to engage residents in new ways with innovative and creative activities. Cheryl designs all of Legacy activities and outings for Legacy 2 and 3. Her favorite activity: Getting to know each and every resident. “I love listening to them and hearing their stories. In fact, I learn quite a lot.”

“Cheryl is passionate about helping our residents engage in meaningful and stimulating activities,” stated Andrea Hillel, Executive Director of Kaplan Estates. “She brings tremendous energy and creativity to her role as activities coordinator on our memory care units. “Most importantly, Cheryl develops strong connections with our residents and their families with her warmth and compassion.”

On her part, Cheryl credits the residents and their families for making her job so enjoyable. “I have had some wonderful heartwarming experiences and am fortunate to have met so many lovely friends and families.” She noted that for her it is a labor of love. “We laugh a lot, sometimes cry together, and often talk for hours,” said Cheryl. “When their faces light up or when they smile or laugh, it means everything. Added Cheryl, “Truthfully, I  never feel  like I am going to work. I feel so blessed.”