PERU The residents at Valehaven Home for Adults, an assisted living home in the Village of Peru, have something to look forward to in 2008. They have an activity director after several years of not having one. Melissa Goodrich, a long-time Peru resident, began the job just a few days before Christmas. We are real happy to have her here, commented resident Mildred Fisher. I love to keep busy and she has us playing bingo and exercising and planning a shopping trip. She is very good. Melissa is just as excited about her new job as the Valehaven residents. She began looking for part-time work last fall to supplement her husbands retirement pay. She had spent about six years working as a substitute teacher following her graduation from Plattsburgh State with a degree in special education in the winter of 1997. She told several friends she was looking to return to substitute teaching. One of those friends cut out a help wanted ad advertising openings for substitute teachers in the Beekmantown school district and stuck it in Melissas Christmas card. When Melissa received the card, she glanced at the help wanted ad and noticed another ad that interested her even more. It was an ad for the opening at Valehaven. Melissa has spent much of her time in the last few years caring for her aging parents, who both passed away within the last few years. She knew she would enjoy the job at Valehaven and went in and applied immediately. Within a few short days, she started her new position. My first order of business has been to meet and visit with each resident and ask them their preferences about the things they would like to do, Melissa said. With 31 residents, it was not a goal she could meet in her first day, especially since they arent all always at Valehaven. Residents are in and out for doctor appointments and a few of the residents opt to take part in the Hassett program, a weekday activities program for adults at the Evergreen Nursing Home in Plattsburgh. These residents are taken and returned by bus each day. This has been an important option for Valehaven residents in the past few years without an activity director in-house. With more activities offered right at home by Melissa, they may be opting to stay at Valehaven more often. Melissa has discovered bingo, shopping at the mall and lunch out are some of the favorite activities of most of the residents. She has also discovered most of the residents thrive on socializing. Many of them are the last surviving members of their families and no one really comes to visit. They just want someone to listen to them. Sometimes it is very hard for them, and I feel it is up to me to keep their outlook rosy, give them hope, and let them know that someone cares. Melissa has found she is enjoying getting to know the residents as much as they are enjoying getting to know her. Each one has so many interesting stories to tell. I am discovering that I have many connections with the residents too. Many of them share mutual friends with me or they knew my mother, she said. Another focus of Melissas is taking inventory of supplies, reorganizing them, and working within her budget to add to the supplies. One of the items she knows shell want to add is large print books.Of all the things she hopes to accomplish at Valehaven this year, she feels increasing the communitys involvement with the residents is the most important. We will always be open to community groups that want to come in and do things, she said. What does Melissa love most about her new job? I just love being a listening ear to sympathize and empathize, she said. It really gives me the chance to be an instrument of God in other peoples lives.