Submitted by Julia Schmutz, PT, Therapy Resource, Northern California
There is something magical about Northern California, the landscape, the misty mornings and warm afternoons, the ageless redwoods, spectacular rugged coastline, the orderly rows of lush grapes and, of course, the people. This is a place that embodies hardiness and resilience. For the best wines, grapevines need a challenge. They love slate and sand and clay and rocky, precipitous hillsides to produce wines of character. In poor soil, the roots have to work harder, “ramifying” or branching out to gather nutrients. This increases to surface area of root to soil and regulates water absorption, and produces better grapes. The redwoods, too, show an amazing picture of resilience, burned out but still standing, majestic and wise. And so, the people who live here reflect the lessons of their environment. Avenlea Gamble is one of those people.
Avenlea is the DOR at Northbrook, a small facility in the northern town of Willits in Northern California. She grew up in this facility, where her mother is the administrator. She has worked there since she was 17 years old and specifically went to school and studied to be an SLP to fill the need in their community. She is one of the most resilient people I have ever had the joy to know. With each challenge she rises up to meet it with a smile and determination. She is unassuming and sees herself as just doing what anyone else would. But ask yourself: Would you be willing to run the kitchen if you didn’t have staffing? Would you step up and cook dinner for your residents twice a week if the need arose? Would you cover for admissions if someone quit?
Besides the challenges of the COVID pandemic, Avenlea has been faced with a multitude of ongoing trials, all of which she has met with grace. She puts it down to her team and facility community who she sees as family. These are deep roots, spread out and well-grounded like the grapes that surround them. Her commitment to serve this small community is unwavering and remarkable. Her foundation is strong and immovable as the redwoods and is built on relationships.
Avenlea is the personification of Herzberg’s theory that for a job to be meaningful, there has to be passion, challenging work, responsivity, personal growth, recognition and meaningful contribution. Hers is a life well-spent from which I am learning much and hope to learn more as I get the privilege of continuing to journey by her side.