Inside Athena: Waterview Villa’s Costume-Wearing Therapeutic Recreation Dir.
EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I — Barbara Ellis-Voltas has a costume for every occasion. From National Pizza Day, Easter, Mardi Gras to Valentine’s Day, National Carrot Cake Day and so much more. You can typically find Ellis-Voltas at Waterview Villa Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in East Providence, Rhode Island in one of those costumes, running an activity program for a group of residents or going room to room with a decorated activity cart dropping off brain games and chatting with the residents while serving up snacks.
She is the Director of Therapeutic Recreation and has been proudly serving up smiles, love, and laughter to residents and staff for the past nine years.
On her days off she travels to flea markets, tag sales, and estate sales to obtain more items that can be used for activities to spread cheer to her residents. She also makes it a family affair as her husband donates his talents on occasion to assist with some of the props for activities.
“I love working for Athena and I love this place,” Ellis-Voltas said, referring to Waterview Villa, her second home. “I wouldn’t work where I’m not proud. I love the company and the support we get here.”
Ellis-Voltas worked as a Certified Nurse Aide for several years before finding her niche in recreation. It was during her time working as a C.N.A. when she realized how much love she has for the elderly population. She then found herself working at senior centers and assisted living before joining the team at Waterview Villa.
As Director of Therapeutic Recreation, Ellis-Voltas handles activities and programming for the short-term and long-term residents and oversees a team of two other recreational assistants, John and Susannah.
“My recreation team is such a support,” she said. “I truly have the best two staff members I have ever had working with me on my team.”
In addition to her recreational duties, she has many hobbies that she brings to Waterview Villa to get the residents involved as well. Ellis-Voltas loves to sing, is an artist, gardens, kayaks, and is an animal lover. She said, in the warmer months, they host a gardening club and get the residents involved in planting seeds and growing fruits and vegetables. She also offers up her painting skills and will paint a picture of your animal friends where the proceeds of the paintings go directly to support the Resident Council Fund.
“I love that I can go in and change their day and they take care of me, too. As much as I give, I get back more,” Ellis-Voltas said. “This is a job of honor. When you can do something to make their day better, it’s the best feeling in the world.”
She also explains how important it is to meet the residents at their level and to approach them with kindness and gratitude.
“I was raised Protestant, but know the rosary and Jewish teachings, it’s so important to meet them on their level and be their family,” Ellis-Voltas said.
Ellis Voltas holds many certificates in therapeutic recreation. She is a Certified Dementia Practitioner, C.N.A., assisted living administrator, certified through the Activity Professionals National Credentialing Center (APNCC), as well as certified with National Certification Council for Activity Professionals (NCCAP).