LEXINGTON, Ky. – “If it were not for the Kentucky National Guard, we would not have been able to keep our doors open.”
That was a recurring sentiment echoed by the staff at Sayre Christian Village, a senior living community in Lexington and one of 11 recipients of supplemental facility support from the Kentucky National Guard.
Sayre is a nonprofit senior living community that provides housing, rehabilitation and long-term nursing care. It has been open to the public since 1983.
This unique support from the military comes as part of a COVID-19 directive issued in November by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. Members of the Kentucky National Guard were activated on Facility Assistance Support Teams (F.A.S.T) to assist at long-term health care facilities in “red zone” counties with a lot of coronavirus cases.
“Our mission is to provide hope, housing and health care, regardless of the pandemic,” said Karen Venis, Sayre CEO. “COVID has certainly made things more challenging for us as a standalone nonprofit to achieve our mission.”
Venis and her staff were eager to share their appreciation for what the governor’s office and the Soldiers of the Kentucky National Guard did for them in their time of need.
“The governor’s initiative, which took a lot of planning and logistics between the governor’s office and the Kentucky Guard, has felt seamless and effortless to the senior living communities they are helping,” said Venis.
Approximately 60 Kentucky National Guard Soldiers were activated to fulfill duties ranging from mail sorting, COVID-19 screening, and facility decontamination, freeing up staffers to care for residents.
“They helped us unpack, assemble, and move furniture for the opening of our expansion. They delivered the mail, they disseminated and sorted personal protective equipment to all the floors for staff, and they sanitized (with our electrostatic sprayer) common areas on a regular basis,” said Angela Goodlett, Sayre’s assisted living director.
“We were honored to provide support to the greatest generation," said Command Sgt. Maj. Paul Rezac, senior enlisted leader, 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade and F.A.S.T member. “Being able to safely assist Sayre and other facilities across the state during the pandemic has been a fulfilling experience for myself, Maj. Bill Crowe, and our staff.”
Rezac worked alongside Soldiers who have been on COVID-19 support in all facets, from testing support, helping at long-term health care facilities and with vaccinations.
“It felt great to work closely with their staff and we even had the privilege to show some appreciation to one of their residents, World War II U.S. Marine Corps veteran Paul Frederick, who served throughout the Pacific and at Iwo Jima,” said Rezac.
“It feels great to know that I work for an organization that not only fights and wins our nation’s wars overseas, but also takes the time to tend to our nation’s needs here at home,” he said.