When the coronavirus reached New York City, Sarah Farr felt compelled to step up to full-time at her job as a recreation aide at the Brooklyn Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation.
Farr, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in therapeutic recreation from SJC Brooklyn in 2018, said she wanted to put in the extra hours to make sure all the residents at the Brooklyn rehabilitation center had extra care during this uncertain time. But it came with a cost: Farr is already a full-time master’s student and worries that she will accidentally bring the virus home to her family.
“At first, before I got the PPE (personal protective equipment), I was very frightened for my family because my parents have underlying conditions,” Farr said. “That’s what I was worrying about the most.
“But now when I get home, I leave my shoes at the door and go straight to the bathroom. I wash my hands, take all my clothes off and go in the shower, and then put my clothes in the washing machine as soon as possible.”
At the rehab center, Farr leads recreational activities with residents, including playing music, art projects, movies and TV shows, puzzles, and newspaper and magazine reading. Farr explained that residents look forward to the activities because it gives them a chance to have fun and bond with their friends at the center.
The rehabilitation center put the group recreation activities on pause last month to help limit the spread of the coronavirus. Now Farr carries out one-to-one visits with residents in their rooms, while wearing PPE to guard her against the possibility of contracting an infection.
“A couple of weeks ago, before all this happened, we were doing projects as normal in the dining room, but then we had to bring it down to only 10 to 12 people spread apart,” Farr recalled. “Now it’s just room visits … Sometimes in the evenings, we will set up video calls for residents to call their families. They get very happy, excited and emotional.”
Outside of work, Farr continues to manage a full-time course load in her master’s degree program, where she is studying special education. It’s difficult to balance working full-time and going to school full time, but Farr said it’s more than worth it to help those in need.
This story is part of OnCampus’ “Answering the Call” series, focusing on St. Joseph’s College students and alumni working outside their homes in essential jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.