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Here for our Community – Cindy Coates

December 7, 2021

Here for our community: Cindy Coates

Every day hundreds of people work behind the scenes to keep Prince Edward County running. We are profiling a few of the people that are ‘here for our community.’

We continue the series by talking with Cindy Coates, Dietary Aide – Cook at H.J. McFarland Memorial Home.

Can you start by giving an overview of your job?

Image of Cindy Coates making coffee in the HJ McFarland Memorial Home kitchen.
“Most days, I don’t have to be here until 7 am, but I usually come in a little after 6 am to make the coffee early.”

You never know what’s going to happen through the day. My family thinks I’m crazy but I always come in early and I like to be prepared. I come in and make sure everything is ready, clean the cart, start the dishes, look at the menu and start preparing lunch.

Most days, I don’t have to be here until 7 am, but I usually come in a little after 6 am to make the coffee early. We used to have a little café in our front lobby, and there was a gentleman who liked to have his coffee early in the morning, or a tea or a cookie or something. I always thought, when I get that age, if somebody does that for me, that would be great. It’s nice to hear them say “thank you” over a simple cup of coffee. So, I still come in and make the coffee early.

How long have you worked with The County?

33 years. I’ve worked in housekeeping, maintenance – we do a bit of everything. But I’ve always been at H.J. McFarland. I’m not sure how long I’ve been in the kitchen, but it’s been a while. I keep saying I’m going to retire, but I’m still here!

Image of Cindy Coates smiling for the camera outdoors in front of the HJ McFarland Memorial Home.
“If you can make something special for someone…why not? I figure with all the of the COVID restrictions, if I can put a smile on their face and make them happy, I should.”

What do you like most about the job and working for The County?

The residents. People say you shouldn’t get attached, but you do. I don’t see how you couldn’t. You’re there morning to night with them, working 12-hour shifts. They want to know where you are, and want to talk to you for a while, that’s all they want. I love the residents.

I made homemade minestrone soup one day. And one fellow came up to me and said, “Can I talk to you?” I thought, “Uh oh.” But he said “You made that soup just like my wife used to make it.” He started to cry. She had passed away a few years ago. I offered to make it for him again. I follow the menus, but if you can make something special for someone, if you have the ingredients and the time, why not? I’ll ask my supervisor. Whether it’s a soup or a pizza casserole, it’s something to look forward to. I figure with all the of the COVID restrictions, if I can put a smile on their face and make them happy, I should.

All of the girls are good to work with. Dione [Mills], my supervisor is amazing. We have an Executive Director, Kyle [Cotton], who comes in and asks you in the morning if there is anything you need. The residents like him. One day, something was broken in the kitchen and he asked “Do you want me to scrub pots and pans?” He’s great.

It’s been so cool to see some of the things Danielle [Preston] is doing for activities for the residents. She did a McDonald’s day recently where they transformed our café into a McDonald’s restaurant. We have a resident who is so comical. She had a Big Mac and you should have seen her face. It looked like we gave her a million bucks.

Image of Cindy Coates inside the HJ McFarland Memorial Home dining room which has been decorated for Christmas.
Cindy Coates in the H.J. McFarland dining room, decorated for the holiday season.

How has COVID-19 impacted your work?

It’s been affected in a lot of ways. Before COVID we used to do a big Christmas dinner and fill the auditorium and the dining room. Family would come and they’d have two guests each and do a nice, big Christmas dinner. But last year, during COVID we couldn’t have guests but we still did the Christmas dinner for the residents. They got dressed up and did their hair and makeup and came down for a special dinner. We’ll do something special for them this year again.

What do you enjoy most about The County?

I’ve been here all my life. I hate summer time because of the tourists. I hate my water bill. But I wouldn’t move anywhere else! I’ve always lived here and I can’t ever see moving. All my kids are here and my grandkids are here.

Click to read all of the Here for our Community Profiles.

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