When Amie LaSalle Vinson was in third grade, her mom started working in a nursing home.
“She took me and my siblings to work with her just about every day, and when she took us to the nursing home with her, she would set us up to do things with the residents like play games, do their nails and everything else,” Vinson said.
Later, when she graduated from high school, Vinson went to the nursing home to help her mom and volunteer.
“They ended up hiring me to do some filing,” she said, “but I was also working in activities with my mom. I started doing that when I was 18, and I am 43 now.
“A lot of people told me this job would burn me out, but I’m still going, so I guess I just burn.”
Today, Vinson is activities director at the Bluffs Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center on Porters Chapel Road. And like her mother, Vinson hopes to leave a legacy.
“She’s the person I built everything around,” Vinson said. “Everything my mom did, I thought I would do it, too, because she did everything with integrity. I come from a family of people who work and worked in the nursing home, but it was my mom that led me to this.”
A kidney cancer survivor, Vinson stresses the importance of being positive about all aspects of life and facing each obstacle that life throws.
“This will be my fifth year cancer free in April, and everything I went through, I went through it with my residents,” she said. “Everything that I’ve been through in my life, it’s been with the residents. Because we spend so much time up here, that sometimes you spend more time with them than you do with your family. That’s how your family gets so involved with this career.
“But even when I was going through my treatment I told my family not to be sad and remember the happy times, because I want the legacy that I leave behind to be like my mom’s: positive.”
As activities director, Vinson enjoys making people happy, and she hopes to show everyone the importance of simply maintaining an upbeat attitude.
“I just like to keep people going. It’s what I like to do,” she said. “I like to say, ‘you can treat a disease, and the results might be fifty-fifty, but when you treat a person, you win every time’.”
Vinson encourages everyone to volunteer some of their time to nursing homes.
“There’s a young person in each of these residents,” Vinson said, “and they just need someone to help bring them out.”