Activities and Volunteer Coordinator at The Fairfax in Fort Belvoir, Va., Morning Carson was introduced to the field when in high school.

“My parents gave me a choice: cheerleading or community outreach,” says Carson. “I found that working at a nursing center gave me the best of both worlds.”

For Activity Director at Forest Hills of D.C. Linda Moreno, her introduction to the field came right after college.

After majoring in industrial design, Moreno had the opportunity to work in Michigan as an activities assistant. She loved being with the residents so much, and they loved being with her, that she was offered the director position. She has been at the job for 25 years.

“It’s what I was born to do,” she says.

Two career changes brought Activity Director Cindi Halkola on board at The Chelsea at Brookfield, Belvidere, N.J. Initially she worked for 15 years in the post office while going to school to become a teacher. However, upon graduation and six years of temporary teaching positions and no steady paycheck, and upon receiving a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s disease, Halkola was stymied.

To save on expenses, she downsized her home. 

Serendipity occurred when she visited her mother’s companion at a local hospital. She spied a big activities calendar on the wall and thought, “This is what I can do.” A while later she found an ad for an activity director posted by The Chelsea at Brookfield. She applied and got the job.

Although she admits a transition was needed to go from working with children to seniors, she notes that there are similarities.

“It’s teaching with no pressure,” says Halkola. “It doesn’t matter if they learn—what matters to me is that they’re happy. They may not remember all the things that made them happy (breakfast, lunch, exercise). All I know is at the end of the day, if they’re smiling, I did my job.”