Assisted Living Facility Earns State Award for Partnership with Nashoba Tech
Assisted Living Facility Earns State Award for Partnership with Nashoba Tech
Posted on 04/04/2018
Assisted Living Facility Award Picture with Nashoba Tech Students

Abbi Laushine, life-enrichment director for Bridges at EPOCH, an assisted-living facility in Westford, accepts the Massachusetts Vocational Association’s 2018 Friend of Vocational Education Award at a recent MVA conference. With her are representatives of Bridges and Nashoba Tech, including School Committee member Donald Ayer of Chelmsford (front left), Superintendent Dr. Denise Pigeon (front, second from left) and Health Assisting Instructor Vicki-Ann Poulin (front, fourth from left).

Bridges at EPOCH, a memory-care assisted-living facility on Littleton Road in Westford, has received the 2018 Friend of Vocational Education Award by the Massachusetts Vocational Association for its work with students at Nashoba Tech.

Nashoba Tech Superintendent Dr. Denise Pigeon nominated Bridges at the encouragement of instructors from several technical programs that have worked with Bridges to improve the lives of its residents as well as the education of Nashoba Tech’s students.

Bridges at EPOCH opened in 2013 and immediately forged a strong partnership with its neighbor, Nashoba Tech.

“Bridges has become an invaluable partner and an integral part of our school community,” Pigeon wrote in her nomination. “Our Health Assisting teachers reached out to Bridges immediately to welcome them, ask them to join our advisory committee and to take the first steps to forge a partnership between our organizations. Little did either of us know at the time how fruitful and integral that partnership would become.”

Bridges welcomed Health Assisting students, who visit regularly with the patients and keep them company. In 2015, Nellie Ramos, then a senior at Nashoba Tech, came up with the idea of hosting a “senior prom” at the school for the residents of Bridges. That event, which included lunch, music and dancing, was such a hit that it has been revived every year since.

“This is an incredible intergenerational activity that provides a tremendously valuable and lasting experience for our students and the Bridges participants,” Dr. Pigeon wrote in her nomination.

Since then, other technical programs at Nashoba Tech have gotten involved with Bridges, including Dental Assisting (helping residents with dental hygiene and oral health); Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management (providing lunch and catering); Early Childhood (Bridges residents visit the on-campus preschool to read to the children); Veterinary Assisting (students and residents have begun an animal-therapy program); and Carpentry (building coops for the residents to care for chickens). Also, Music Instructor Laura Lamore has begun multigenerational workshops with the residents and preschool students.

Abbi Laushine, life-enrichment director for Bridges at EPOCH, accepted the award at the MVA conference in Foxborough.

“I am so honored to be recognized with the team here at Bridges for our partnership with Nashoba Valley Tech,” Laushine said. “It is so rewarding to see the connections that are made between the students and our residents. To watch the growth that happens with these students over the years they visit our community is amazing, the way they appreciate the residents more with every visit. They all have so much fun together.”

Erica Labb, executive director at Bridges, added, “We are so very pleased to have such a great relationship with our neighbor, Nashoba Valley Technical High School. To be able to offer intergenerational programs to these two groups — the young adults and the seniors — is a gift to all of us. Providing on-the-job training for the Health Assisting program has grown into opportunities for other departments, and we hope to continue to cultivate this relationship with the incredible educators next door.”

“The residents of Bridges,” Dr. Pigeon wrote in conclusion, “have allowed our students to learn skills and trades in a unique and irreplaceable way. Our students have learned compassion, patient care and empathy while increasing the quality of life for the residents.”