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Doris Story Compressed 4

Doris Doersam carves out time to enjoy friends each day

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Doris Doersam knows what it’s like to live in many places

At 99 years old, Doris Doersam has had a long and productive life—and her age hasn’t affected her ability to adapt to new places and make new friends.

After moving to the Episcopal Church Home in late 2017, Doris has found a daily schedule full of programs and activities that she enjoys. These include sharing meals with her close circle of friends in the dining room and a wide variety of morning and afternoon programs, in addition to outings with staff and playing the chimes in the Church Home’s group.

Doris moved to the Church Home after spending time at ESLC’s Center for Rehabilitation for a broken pelvis. Once she was back on her feet, Doris and her daughter, Dawn, decided it would be good for Doris to have more daily support, and after doing lots of research, they decided it would best for Doris to stay at ESLC. Conveniently, the Episcopal Church Home is adjacent to the rehab center.

This is only one of the many times Doris has moved throughout her life. Her husband Raymond’s job in food service for New York colleges meant that they moved several times around the state, including to Syracuse and New York City. Doris also worked in education. She graduated from the Teachers College in Brockport, NY, and initially worked as a first-grade teacher at the Seneca School in Rochester’s Irondequoit area. She taught grade school for more than 20 years. “I loved working with the little kids, and teaching them to read was amazing,” she says.

Of all the places Doris and Raymond lived, her favorite was a house they initially built as a vacation home in the Adirondacks on Blue Mountain Lake. There she met a talented wood carver, whose wooden birds she still owns and loves. “He always did a lot of research about the birds he carved, including how they perch, the songs they sang and everything about them. He was also teaching his daughter how to carve them.” After Doris and Raymond retired, they split their time with half a year at their Blue Mountain home and the other half in the Venice and Sarasota area in Florida.

Doris says that since her move to the Church Home, Dawn, who’s retired, visits her every day. “The aides here would do it for me but Dawn comes in and arranges all my clothes,” says Doris. “That way, I know that everything I put on looks good. Dawn has also gotten to know my friends here and they look forward to her visits too.” Doris’ grandson David and his family also live in Rochester and are frequent visitors. “I’m lucky,” she says.

Doris has limited eyesight now, so she’s glad to have her daughter’s help with choosing the right outfits. But poor eyesight hasn’t stopped her from something else she’s always loved. Reading is one of Doris’ real pleasures in life. Through the generosity of Rochester’s Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI), Doris has a special tape player and her choice of books on tape to listen to each day, something she frequently does at night before bed. “Dawn signs me up for all kinds of stories—fiction, mysteries and suspense—and they come right in the mail.”

She’s glad to have landed at the Church Home. “They take such good care of us here,” she says, “and the friendships you form are so wonderful and important. You eat with your friends each day and get to know their families. And the staff knows how much I love a big container of ice chips—so they keep me well supplied!”

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