It all started with a call light and a simple conversation.
Connie Messina is 106 years old, making her currently the most senior resident at Oakview Health Center in Thousand Oaks. Earlier in her life she was an interior decorator and clothing designer which explains her eye for color and texture. Connie moved to Oakview Skilled Nursing in January 2020 from neighboring University Village retirement community and although physically is most comfortable in her bed, she is alert for her years. She has a bright smile and beautiful skin, which we’ll come back to later. We are so glad to know her and to have her in our care.
One day Jeannette Ruggiero, Oakview Administrator was walking the floor and answered the call light in Connie Messina’s room. Connie told her that she wished she could have a “few” things and asked if she was the type of person who could get them for her. Through the conversation that ensued, Connie explained that she was in need of moisturizer, a lip stick and an eyebrow pencil. She emphasized that the moisturizer should be Clinique because it’s the best one. “Once you try it you won’t want to use anything else”. She also added that she liked to wear eyeliner when she went out at night. However, she quickly admitted that it had been quite some time since she had been “out” at night or to the make-up counter at the department store. Jeannette agreed that these were important items – a girl needs to have her moisturizer … right? – asked Connie to give her a little time, and that she would focus on these basic things.
This information was shared with me as Oakview Admission’s Director and I quickly turned to Connie’s family and hospice company, Buena Vista Hospice, to see if they could assist me in coordinating a trip to the Clinique makeup counter. Nancy Knutson at Buena Vista did just that. Between the two of us, arrangements were made and the date was set for October 27th. Connie was to have a trip to Macy’s to have a make-over at the Clinique counter in the Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks complete with her private caregiver to assist with the trip and wheelchair transport from Mendez Transportation to safely get her there.
Connie was so excited when she was told about this special event and was all smiles. “I get to go shopping?”, she said in disbelief. “Oh my gosh! I’m going to have to get dressed!”
When Connie arrived at Macy’s she had rosy cheeks that complimented the light pink jacket she had on. The Clinique team, lead by Nicolette Vasile – Clinique Manager along with Paula- Clinique Make up Artist, Brianna- Clinique Coordinator and Cindy – Clinique Executive, was there to greet her at the door in their white lab coats. As they escorted her inside, they introduced her to the Macy’s Store Manager, Del Hernandez and Macy’s Cosmetic Manager, Ally Burnham who were in attendance as well. What a special welcome!
The Clinique team had a designated area set up for Connie and Cindy and Paula pampered her with their products on her face and hands. I was so impressed with the kindness and generosity of Clinique. They were attentive and provided Connie with a gift box of products that she could take home with her, including a beautiful snow-white quilted bag that Connie could “put all of her Clinique products in”. Connie was thrilled with that bag. The final touch was a silver Clinique pin that was presented to Connie as they asked her if she would be their Clinique Ambassador! Connie graciously accepted and sat up a little straighter as they placed the pin on her lapel. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
As if the morning couldn’t get any better, Del Hernandez, the Macy’s store manager, presented Connie with a $100 dollar Macy’s gift card that she could use to go shopping for anything she liked within their store. Connie’s eyes opened wide with surprise at this unexpected gift. As all this attention was starting to take its toll, we asked Connie what she would like to “go shopping” for. She decided that she “could use a new pair of pajamas”. So off we went and returned with a few pairs of soft, beautiful, pink pajamas with fuzzy socks to match – her favorite color. And with that, Connie was ready to go home.
I am so thankful for all the people that came together to create this special outing for Connie. Macy’s, Clinique, Buena Vista Hospice, Mendez Transport and the support from her family and Oakview. It was an event that touched us all. No matter our age or place that we are in life, making possible simple pleasures that we otherwise might take for granted, can make all the difference.