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Celebrating Black History Month

Highlighting health care workers at Buckner senior living communities

February marks Black History Month, a tribute to African American men and women who have made significant contributions to the history, culture and achievements of the United States.
Since 1976, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. The 2022 Black History Month’s theme is Black Health and Wellness. This focus will celebrate the contributions and breakthroughs of Black professionals as well as speaking to the cultural richness of those “non-traditional” health and wellness practitioners (e.g., doulas, midwives, etc.).

As a result, we want to shine a light on some of the amazing associates working in health care at Buckner senior living communities. Meet two incredible health care heroes who work every day to inspire happiness for senior adults. 

Shameka Fultz

Certified dietary manager at Ventana by Buckner

How did you start working in health care? 
I have been in a nursing home health care facility for 14 years now. I started at the bottom – I started as a housekeeper, then I went into laundry, then to the dietary department as a server then a cook, and then I was asked to be the assistant manager. Next thing I knew I was taking my CDM to be a dietary manager. It just kind of progressed as time went on. I enjoy what I do. I love what I do, and this is my passion. 

What is your favorite part of your job? 
The residents. You can learn so much from the residents, especially the older ones who have so much experience. I enjoy listening to their stories, how they grew up and how the times have changed for them from then to now. 

What motivates you? 
My kids. Before COVID-19, I would take my kids to work with me, and they loved helping the residents as well. They say, "Mom, you have the best job because you make food and make desserts and help people." They like being here because they say everyone is nice. They like to bond with the residents. That motivates me every single day because my kids look up to me to see that I’m going the right direction and showing them I love what I’m doing and not complaining about going to a job every day. 

What does Black History Month mean to you? 
Black History Month means celebration to me – celebration of life and opportunities that we never even thought of doing. In this position I’ve been in for a while, I have to look back, because the communities I have been in or where I have lived in, there was not a lot of people that looked like me. Right now, in the company that contracts me, I’m the only African American in management. That used to intimidate me; I felt like I had to be the best and couldn’t make mistakes. I felt like I had to be perfect at all times, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We’ve passed that. I’m accepted. I don’t have to work twice as hard because of the color of my skin. They love the job I do, and they say they appreciate me. That’s what Black History Month means to me: Celebration, diversity and opportunities. 

You're a health care hero to many people. Who is your hero? 
Someone I look up to, who is my hero, is my mentor, Marsha. She took me under her wing and gave me the direction I needed to get to where I’m at right now. I’m proud of myself. I’ve come a long way. There were so many things I needed to learn in a short amount of time. It was a crash course learning to be a manager. And she was there all the time to guide me and answer my questions all the time. 

What about your culture are you most proud of? 
I’m proud of everything. I’m proud of how far we’ve come, how we’ve united, how we’ve become one to help each other in time of need, especially in a pandemic like this. I’ve noticed how successful we’ve become in the pandemic. More black-owned businesses; they’re buying more land. They’re giving back to the community a lot more, starting food programs. It’s opened a lot of doors for us right now. I’m excited to see where we’re going and how strong we are. I want to see us keep coming together for the good and not the bad. 

What would you like to tell future generations? 
Every opportunity is there for you. Don’t feel like because you are a certain skin color – or anything of that nature – that it is going to be harder for you. If you work hard and put your mind to it, you can do anything you want to do. Don’t let anybody bring you down and make you feel less than you are. As long as you know you can do it, that’s all that matters. 

Ashley Brown 

LVN, assistant director of nursing at Buckner Calder Woods

Why did you start working in Buckner health care?
Previously I worked in another nursing home, but I was tired of traveling. I was hired here to help as much as I could with whatever needed to be done. I basically got here and did whatever I needed and proved myself to be a great worker, so I was promoted to the role of assistant director of nursing. Any job I go on, I put my best foot forward and try to advance as much as I can. 

What motivates you? 
I motivate myself, and my kids motivate me to do it. I love what I do. Some of the residents don’t have family, so you’re their family. I do everything in my power to make them happy or make their day a little better or to motivate them to be better. 

What does Black History Month mean to you? 
Black History Month to me is basically our heritage, where we came from to where we are now. Looking at all the African Americans that got us to the place we are now, such as Harriet Tubman with slavery and Martin Luther King with segregation. It just gives you insight basically to what African Americans have been through and how far we’ve come for what we have now. 

What do you find most rewarding about the position you are in? 
Just being able to help the residents. Being here for them in a time like this – so much is going on with COVID – day by day there is so much change. Just being able to be there for the residents and comfort them during this time is inspiring. 

You’re a health care hero to many people. Who is your hero? 
I would have to say my grandmother and my mom. Just growing up watching them work hard. My mom always pushed me to be better. She’s my inspiration and my hero to me. 

What about your culture are you most proud of? 
I’m just proud of my culture period, so it’s difficult to say one particular thing. 

What would you like to tell future generations? 
Never give up on your dreams. That’s the biggest thing. Once I graduated school, I didn’t go straight to college. I kind of went off and did my own thing for a while. Nursing has always been my dream. I was working, but I always felt like I missed my calling, so I went back to school for nursing. Even though people may stray from life for a while, don’t ever give up on your dreams. Always go for it. No matter how old you are, never give up. Because I’m still going to school right now to go further in my career. So never give up on your dreams. 

If you would like to learn more

In keeping with this year's theme, here is a list of recommended reading from prominent Black authors. 

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