It’s that time of year again, when the elementary-aged children of staff at Marquis and Consonus-partner facilities go back to school with bright green Vital Life Foundation backpacks slung over their shoulders. Each is stuffed full of most everything necessary for that first day in the classroom, and for parents managing tight budgets, the gift always comes as a welcome relief.
The Backpack to School program began in 2008, and since then more than 20,000 backpacks have been delivered. It’s a way to champion future health care leaders, and show appreciation and support for those who care for our residents.
The program had to be put on hold in 2020 due to the pandemic, but here in 2021, it’s back in motion, though on a limited scale. To date this year, 1,412 backpacks have been delivered to 51 Marquis and Consonus-partner facilities.
We don’t put enough emphasis on our kids in America anymore. They need the best education our money can buy, so it’s good that people are donating. We can never give them too much.
At Marquis Newberg, an outdoor backpack party with a Hawaiian vacation theme was planned, complete with a festive lunch barbecue. Residents wielding water guns sprayed staff, and many took advantage of the opportunity to be safely pulled down a massive slip-and-slide.
When the games were finished, staff lined up to receive Vital Life backpacks presented personally by residents, who enjoyed playing a part in supporting the children. Jesse, a resident and veteran, felt particularly strongly about the importance of the Backpack to School program. “We don’t put enough emphasis on our kids in America anymore,” he said. “They need the best education our money can buy, so it’s good that people are donating. We can never give them too much.”
“It’s wonderful just to have some help,” said Robert Thomas, facility admissions director, as Jesse handed him a backpack. “It’s been a tough go with Covid-19, so to know we have this kind of support is wonderful.”
For all the facility residents, the Newberg backpack party offered a little reprieve, and a taste of what life will be again after the pandemic. “We needed a little fun during our COVID summer,” said Michelle Wood, a Consonus occupational therapist who helped deliver slip-and-slide rides. “I had residents who haven’t smiled in a long time laughing and having a good time. It’s been fantastic.”