This Nurse Liaison Brings Laughs to KenCrest Clients
With over 40 costumes, KenCrest Nurse Liaison Jodi Bliss brings laughter to the Supported Independent Living and Lifesharing programs.
By Sydney Kerelo
As a Nurse Liaison for KenCrest’s Supported Independent Living and Lifesharing programs, Bliss constantly visits clients’ homes, spreading cheer in her wake. She regularly collaborates with different teams to do training for those with a new diagnosis or medication and talks with hospitals to help individuals access the care they need. She even goes house-to-house to oversee clients’ medical and staff needs, including a recent visit to teach a client how to use her new blood pressure cuff.
Since joining the team in March 2020— just as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down Pennsylvania—Bliss has quickly adapted to her new role, pulling on her experience working in respite and bringing her own version of cheer, by dressing up in wild costumes.
With over 40 different costumes, it’s no wonder Bliss’s favorite way to brighten up anyone’s day revolves around donning giant blowup costumes, which began when her husband caught COVID. When the couple had to be separated in their home; Bliss would walk around the house dressed in various costumes and videotape herself, cooking, cleaning, or dancing around to cheer him up.
Jodi Bliss dressed up as the Easter bunny, a blow-up Penguin, and a woman in a bathing suit. // Photos courtesy of Jodi Bliss
“Wearing the costumes first evolved from my granddaughter and me dressing up together,” says Bliss. “But now it’s turned into me standing outside clients’ homes dressed as the Easter bunny.”
Bliss has even brought her colorful costumes on her mission trips to Kenya and Guatemala. When she visited Kenya, she brought along a blowup cow costume and all the 60-plus children present fell in love with it. She even stood next to a group of actual cows and got the crowd cracking up with laughter. They had no idea what was happening but laughed the entire time, which was Bliss’s goal, to bring happiness to those in need.
Earlier this year, through the organization Donde Hay No Doctora, Inc., Bliss visited Guatemala, bringing her trusty bag of costumes and encouraging everyone to dress up. But that’s not all she did. During her trips, Bliss worked within various clinics as a nurse to help those in village communities who suffer from medical issues like smoke inhalation or dehydration; she also assists in educational classes focused on using menstrual kits.
“In Kenya, many people come in from the village with breathing issues because they’re cooking outside with fire,” says Bliss. “So, we offer education classes and body mechanics teachings because the women are constantly on the move taking care of their homesteads and have a lot of back or knee issues. We’ve also taught many classes on drinking water and staying hydrated.”
Jodi Bliss with the children she supported during her mission trips to Kenya and Guatemala. // Photos courtesy of Jodi Bliss
During her mission trip in Kenya, Bliss was housed in the village, slept on bunk beds with nets over them, showered with warmed buckets of water, and used holes in the ground as her toilet. She lived as those in the village did, and to her, it was an incredible experience that encouraged her to continue supporting Kenyan children through the Blair in Kenya organization.
Blair in Kenya partners with local communities to create two schools and educates more than 1,000 children in nursery school through grade 9, and through the sponsorship program, supports more than 250 students’ educational expenses.
Bliss currently sponsors two kids for $200 a year, helping rebuild the schools and providing her sponsor students with new school uniforms, an education, and various meals throughout the day.
Jodi Bliss with other KenCrest staff outside of the Robinson Street building. // Photo courtesy of Jodi Bliss
While unsure where her next mission trip will take her, Bliss continues to work daily to provide medical support and a shoulder to lean on for those supported by KenCrest. Many of her clients regularly talk with her about everything from their medical needs to more personal conversations about their diagnoses and how it makes them feel.
“To be a nurse at KenCrest, you have to be open to the idea of disabilities and know that it’s a different world than a skilled nursing facility,” says Bliss. “You must be adaptable, buts it’s so worth it when a client opens up and you get to know their personality. It’s incredible to see them never give up and always be willing to be themselves.”
Are you interested in learning more about KenCrest’s Supported Independent Living and Lifesharing programs, or do you want to join our team? Click the links below for more information!