Nov. 1, 2020
By Teri Sumbry
GADSDEN, Ala. — After earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama School of Social Work and preparing to embark on a career, Donna Wright trusted that God would place her where she belonged.
Fortunately, for countless nursing home residents for more than 40 years, that place has been McGuffey Healthcare. In October, Wright retired and left behind a career of caring and advocacy.
“(Wright’s) presence definitely will be missed – her energy, smile, laugh and guidance,” said April Conley, McGuffey Healthcare’s administrator. “She inspires other employees through her commitment and dedication.”
Wright served as the marketing/facility liaison at McGuffey Healthcare but held several roles over the years, including activity director, floor administrator, risk manager, and administrator.
When Moore earned her BSW from UA in1977, the Gadsden-native knew she was a “people person” who enjoyed helping others. She was initially hired as a social worker and successfully translated this trait to her role. In 1994, she was named Social Service Professional of the Year by the Alabama Nursing Home Association.
“I was proud because the residents were the ones who wrote letters stating how what I did made their lives more abundant and fulfilling,” Wright said.
Wright said people often question her about working in a nursing home and wrongly presume her job is depressing. She always lets them know that this is not the case because she accepts residents as they are and works to help them be the best they can be.
“I have always been an advocate for the resident. I loved to see smiles on their faces and to give hugs to let them know someone cares,” she said.
Some of her favorite memories at McGuffey are from her time spent as the activity director; residents were always busy with events such as the Ms. Alabama Nursing Home Pageant and gospel concerts on National Grandparents Day, or trips to Noccalula Falls for picnics and Chattanooga to visit the Tennessee Aquarium. Among the highlights is a trip to Camp ASCCA (Alabama’s Special Camp for Children and Adults). The three-day summer camp experience on Lake Martin gave residents a chance to enjoy nature and share a priceless reward.
“It was hard, hard work, but seeing [the residents] smile, laugh and truly enjoying themselves was worth it,” Wright said.
Wright admits she will miss the residents and her co-workers, as well as the case managers and social workers she worked with in the community. However, she is excited about the days ahead. She and her husband, Nelson, have been married for 41 years. About two years ago, their son, Andy, and daughter-in-law, Mandy, made them grandparents and gave Wright an even better reason to look forward to extra time.
“I plan on enjoying my home on the lake (and) traveling, but most of all, spending time with my family. Especially my grandson, Charlie,” Wright said.