Sloter seeking greener pastures

DeWayne Bartels

Karlita Sloter may be retiring from her full-time job as activities director at the Communities of Maple Lawn, but she is not calling it quits with the facility.

Sloter, 65, said after 25 years at Maple Lawn she is ready to step back from the daily grind of work, but not ready to abandon the residents at Maple Lawn that have become like family.

“I’ve been tapped to be president of the Maple Lawn Auxiliary,” Sloter said.

Maple Lawn is holding an open house honoring Sloter from 1 to 5 p.m. Friday  in Maple Lawn’s Memorial Hall.  The public is invited.

Sloter has been instrumental in expanding Maple Lawn’s inter generational program with Noah’s Ark Children’s Center, Eureka Davenport Grade School and with local supporting kept churches.  

In 2007 Sloter received the prestigious Illinois Activity Professionals Association Dorene Award.  Annually IAPA awards an activity professional who contributes in an outstanding way to the life enrichment of elderly living in long-term care facilities.

Sloter said 25 years in the activities field is an incredibly long time. She said most people only last a couple of years. There was a simple reason Sloter stayed at it so long.

“I was pretty much raised by my grandparents, so I’ve always loved the elderly,” Sloter said.

She was at home raising her children and decided to go back to work. She had been a teacher. She wanted to stay local and have the freedom to be involved with her children’s activities.

“I saw the ad for an opening here. I got hired as activities director with no experience,” Sloter said.

“I really found everything I expected. The job gave me an opportunity to be creative and give to people. I love to give. Everything I learned in teaching I have used here. I’m passionate about them.”

Sloter said she has spent the last 25 years connecting with the residents at Maple Lawn.

“It makes them so much better,” Sloter said. “I accept them as they are, not what others want them to be.”  

The state and federal paperwork and regulations, Sloter said, is what has driven her to retirement.

“If it wasn’t for the crummy state and federal paperwork I would love to stay. It’s not just the residents, but also the families that made this work worthwhile,” Sloter said.

“We’re so much more regulated now. The person to person contact doesn’t change, but the regulations add more work and takes away from the person-to-person contact that kept me in this job.”

Sloter said the job has just become very frustrating. “When I get frustrated I go hug and laugh with one of the residents,” Sloter said.  

That, however, is not enough anymore.

“My husband is retired and he’s having too much fun without me. I want to travel with him,” Sloter said.”

Sloter said though that the residents will never be too far from her mind.

“They have given me wonderful memories. I recall a woman we took on a drive. She didn’t want her hair to get messed up, so she put her underwear on her head,” Sloter said, laughing.