‘Getting by with a little help from your friends’

(Lander, WY) – County 10 recently sat down with Mountain Vista Retirement Residence Service Director Brenda Wortman to discuss her work with the local senior community, COVID impacts, and opening back up.

Brenda wore many hats for over two decades at the Lander Senior Center. She initially started as a part-time bus driver and quickly moved to different roles in outreach, activities, and housing just to name a few.

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“I found a love for the senior community as a whole,” she shared about working there.

Her care and compassion for the senior community is obvious with the way she goes above and beyond. She attributes this to her 83-year-old mom and knowing what she needs help with. “Helping them with their everyday living so that their senior years are truly golden.”

Working at the center was hard in the beginning, she explained. Becoming friends with everyone, hearing their amazing life stories, getting to know their families and then they would pass away. “It would break my heart.”

A particular piece of advice helped her get by in those difficult times: Instead of thinking about the loss, think about “had you not been working here, you would not have known those people as well as you have nor would they have known you as well as they have.”

Becoming the Mountain Vista Service Director was like moving, she shared. A few of the residents are regulars at the Lander Senior Center making the transition easier.

She joined one other Mountain Vista employee, Debra Hudelson, who has worked there for 6 years and does the majority of maintenance. The two of them wear many hats on a daily basis.

The pandemic caused difficult moments when she started as director in September 2020. One of the more prominent ones was trying to figure out what the COVID-19 protocol would be for independent living.

“I was welcomed in with the greatest adventure of a lifetime at Mountain Vista,” Brenda chuckled.

After going back and forth, the State and Brenda landed on the residence being considered along the lines of a college dorm.

Residents have their own rooms, but also common areas or as Brenda describes it, “getting by with a little help from your friends.”

The hardest part of the pandemic was not being able to move people into the facility. However, they are accepting new residents. In fact, they have their first senior moving in since last year.

This now fills 13 of their 19 residences. They are excited to be opening back up and welcoming new faces to the community.

For those who may not know, Mountain Vista is a nonprofit that sits next to Westward Heights which was done intentionally. The two actually share a board of directors as well.

The apartments range in square footage and have 1-2 bedroom options as well. They offer both memberships and leasing.

Additional information about Mountain Vista can be found here.

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