Fighting tears, Montana Shermann breathes deep. “Sorry, I haven’t talked about them for a while.” Collecting herself, Montana continues, “I was close with my grandparents who passed away recently. They’re the reason I became a Therapeutic Recreation Assistant. They were a huge part of my life.”
When Montana speaks about supporting older adults, you can’t help but smile. “You go into older adults’ lives, figure out what they loved and who they are. You build relationships with them and plan activities they enjoy.”
Legacy to her grandparents
Montana credits her grandparents for leading her to a career she loves. Over the years, she watched them transition from an active couple to people whose independence slowly slipped away. She supported them through this transition. “I’m glad I could give back because they looked after me, and now I could look after them. I wished I could have been there all the time to help them.”
When Montana’s grandpa passed, her grandma moved into care. Montana gained an understanding of what older adults and their families feel during life’s final chapter. “I saw the toll moving into care took on my grandma. She was depressed and became more isolated. I wanted to help.” These experiences and the love she felt for her grandparents inspired Montana’s career in Therapeutic Recreation (THR).
Back to school
With Montana’s passion for older adults, THR might seem like an obvious career choice. However, she didn’t know what she wanted to be and tried a few other careers first. It was not until she saw an ad for Stenberg’s THR program that she considered it. Montana was inspired by the idea of enriching the lives of older adults like her grandparents. She found her passion.
When Montana began the online THR program, she was surprised at the relationships she developed. “Having classmates who shared my passion made me feel like I belonged. I loved connecting with people who are interested in what I’m interested in.”
When passion meets purpose
Today, Montana has purpose. From creating reminiscing kits to leading games of pool-noodle hockey, this is where she is meant to be. Montana loves planning activities for older adults but more importantly, she loves the relationships she builds.
By combining her inherent warmth with the skills she learned in the program, Montana is now a support for older adults in her community. “I’m doing this because I want to make a difference. I want to fill their days with what they enjoy and love. I want to make their last days happy.”
Feeling inspired? Visit Stenberg’s website to learn more about their Therapeutic Recreation Assistant Diploma program.