Berkshire challenges staff to Gingerbread House competition

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By Debbie Adams

Berkshire Health and Rehabilitation Center held its first Gingerbread House competition among their staff on December 13. Each department decorated a Gingerbread House for the contest, starting out with standard kits distributed by coordinators of the event.

Some choose to stick with the basic cookies, candies, and frosting décor provided. Others thought outside the boxed kit and added their own unique, whimsical, and creative touches.

The winning creation, “Berkshire’s Barnyard,” was built by the Activities Staff who include Lori Bowman, Loni Stoneman, and Samantha Painter. It featured the house turned into a red barn, surrounded by a pretzel square fence and sidewalk. Animal crackers were decorated as livestock. There was a silo of vanilla wafers, pretzel rod light poles, Christmas bulb lighting, and conical Christmas trees.

Staff in the Activities Department at Berkshire Health and Rehabilitation Center in Vinton won first place in the first staff Gingerbread House Contest. Lori Bowman (on right) from the department is shown accepting the Gingerbread trophy from judge Bootie Chewning. Loni Stoneman and Samantha Painter were also part of the team who built the “Berkshire’s Barnyard” entry. (photos by Debbie Adams)
First Place winner in the Berkshire Gingerbread House competition.

Second place went to the Admissions Department with a Christmas tree farm which also featured ice cream cone trees joined together by a string of lights, a pretzel cabin, a pick-up truck, and a cocoa booth.

Second place winner in the Gingerbread competition

Third place went to the Human Resources and Staff Development Department who had covered their standard cookie house in pretzel rods to make a log cabin, complete with a sugar wafer cookie bench in front.

Third place winner in the Gingerbread House competition at Berkshire.

One of the most innovative entries was a gingerbread cookie tent– constructed from the remains of the gingerbread house which collapsed–  with the addition of a pretzel campfire.

One of the most innovative Gingerbread designs was the result of a Gingerbread house collapse during the construction process.

Other departments participating included Nursing, Dietary, Business Office, Housekeeping, Discharge Planning, and Maintenance.

Admissions Director Jamie Hawse said the staff came up with the idea for the Gingerbread House contest to bring everyone on staff together in the holiday spirit with a focus on teamwork. Next year they hope to expand the competition to include businesses and organizations in Vinton.

Bootie Chewning (on left) served as the judge for the Gingerbread House competition at Berkshire Health and Rehab. She is shown with Admissions Director Jamie Hawse.

Other employee events planned for December with the “Twelve Days of Christmas” theme include treats for the staff– Christmas Cocoa and Treats, Christmas Cookies and Milk, Grinch Punch, and Reindeer Mix-– along with a staff Christmas party, Christmas caroling with Tacky Christmas Sweaters, a visit from Santa, the Christmas Crawl, and Christmas PJs.

Berkshire started off the holiday season by building an entry for the Vinton Christmas Parade featuring the Grinch.

Hawse says the Berkshire residents have loved the Gingerbread Houses, which are on display in a main hallway, and were able to vote for the People’s Choice award. Bootie Chewning, who has spent some time as a resident of Berkshire in the past two years for health issues, was invited back to judge the Gingerbread House Contest to her delight.

Berkshire Health and Rehab has been serving the Vinton, Roanoke, and Botetourt communities and beyond since 1978.

“We are proud to be an active part of the local community, participating in various Vinton area events and festivals including the Dogwood Festival, Senior Expo, Fall Festival, and Christmas Parade,” the staff said. “We also give frequent health presentations and offer outreach programs within the community.”

In 2018, the Berkshire Health and Rehabilitation Center in Vinton won two prestigious awards from the parent company, Medical Facilities of America: the Quality of Life Award and the Facility of the Year Award. The company operates 42 centers throughout Virginia and North Carolina. It gives seven awards each year– Berkshire won two of the seven.

To win the Quality of Life Award, the facility qualifies by receiving the highest scores in categories such as customer service, environmental services, activities, and maintenance in several audits throughout the year.

The Facility of the Year Award is the top recognition from the company and is voted on by members of the Corporate office headquartered in Roanoke. Quality of Life results are factored into the highest award.

Berkshire Health and Rehab has won the Quality of Life Award three years running—in 2016, 2017, and 2018. They received Facility of the Year honors in 2012, 2016, and 2018.

Their administration says the awards represent great team effort in providing care to patients. Their goal is to “make it easy to recover near to home and to the people you love.”