International Bite Showcases “United Nations” of Wesley Homes

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Wesley Homes Des Moines Health Center caps summer travel program activities for residents with an International Bite, highlighting international cultures.

Wesley Homes travel program: Philippines

Wesley Homes travel program: Philippines

Wesley Homes Des Moines Health Center has taken its residents on a tour of the world since June through a virtual travel program, which culminates Thursday, August 27 with the International Bite.

The International Bite features the cultures and foods from the 10 countries featured at the Health Center this summer: Bosnia, Kenya, Fiji, India, American Samoa, Mexico, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Kingdom of Tonga and the Republic of the Philippines. Each country will be represented by Wesley Homes Des Moines Health Center employees who were born in those countries.

The travel program was the idea of Naniofa Poulivaati-Mounga, Director of Activities and Volunteer Services for Wesley Homes.

“When I became the director,” said Poulivaati-Mounga, “the residents didn’t know who I was. I wanted to give them a way to get to know me so they would be comfortable and trust me, so I designed a ‘cruise’ of the South Pacific for them. The first stop was Hawaii. I put together a slideshow with photos, history and YouTube videos. The residents went to the USS Arizona Memorial, an organic coffee plantation, a pineapple farm - everywhere. We took them to American Samoa, Tahiti and New Zealand, too, and they loved it!”

The last stop of the initial tour was the Kingdom of Tonga, where Poulivaati-Mounga was born. “I had cousins come in for a luau. They brought real leis and flowers for the residents,” she said. “My family sent coffee from Hawaii for the residents to sample, and we served cake. It really gave me the opportunity to share myself with the residents.”

One resident, Teresa Sexton, enjoyed the program so much that she suggested the Activities Team create an international booth because the staff of the Health Center was like a United Nations. In 2014, Poulivaati-Mounga invited the staff to participate in the expanded tour program, and they showcased five countries over five weeks through food, dances, clothing and ceremonies.

“The staff and their families were amazing,” said Poulivaati-Mounga. “The programs were so popular! For India, we had to set up tables to move the food outside so that we could fit more people inside. The staff loved presenting their cultures, the residents loved learning about the staff and even our doctors participated.”

Poulivaati-Mounga wanted a grand finale for the ten countries featured in the 2015 travel program, now known as the United Nations of the Health Center, and the International Bite of Wesley Homes Des Moines was born. She’s included a DJ for all of the cultural music, and each country will have 15 minutes for their traditional dances and ceremonies. Bites of traditional foods will also be served.

Poulivaati-Mounga hopes to expand the 2016 International Bite to include families of Health Center residents and independent living residents. The food and food preparation have been donated by staff and their families.

“I came up with the International Bite to showcase our variety of cultures while concluding the program for the year,” she said, “but really, the employees view it as an opportunity to give back to the residents. We embrace them as part of our family.”

Founded in 1944, Wesley Homes is a not-for-profit organization that provides a network of services offering a continuum of care for over 1,800 older adults with two retirement communities in south King County, a private pay home care agency and a Medicare-certified home health agency. It is affiliated with the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Retirement Communities, Home Health Services & Foundation
815 S. 216th Street
Des Moines, WA 98198
(206) 824-5000

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Rachel Kirkman
Wesley Homes
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Hilary Gray
Wesley Homes
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Wesley Homes
since: 08/2011
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