Classic caring

After making her rounds visiting residents in the assisted living community, Crystal Prather serves lunch. (From left), Mary Sue Coppage, Aileen Williams, Crystal, Paul Williams, Carol Sankbell, Wanda Shrout. Crystal is the life enrichment director at Cedar Ridge Health Campus.

Crystal Prather is helping serve a meal, a chore that might seem below her job description as life enrichment director of  the Cedar Ridge Health Campus, yet it's one of her favorite things to do.

"A lot of people are like I don’t want to be a waitress. I’m like I never want to be a waitress either, but these people are family, and I want to wait on them. They deserve that. They deserve to be waited on, and I hope when I’m older somebody will wait on me.”

Crystal, who has worked at Cedar Ridge for five years, serves the residents of the assisted living facility in many ways -- by checking in on them daily, organizing shopping trips and forming genuine friendships. She can name all 80-plus residents.

She gets to know the seniors by interviewing them within the first three days of their arrival to learn about their hobbies and habits.

Crystal strives to plan activities that appeal to the collective interests and encourages the seniors to turn out and get involved in the events.  In a few days time there was dulcimer playing, a Halloween costume parade by elementary school students and decorating fall pumpkins.   

Prather’s connection to Cynthiana started with kiss.com, where she met her husband, Joe Prather, a Cynthiana native, who also sparked  her love of classic cars, car shows and cruise-ins.

 In 2018, when Crystal was crowned Ms. Cynthiana Rod Run, she was asked what era she could live in if she had the choice. Her response was the 1950s.

In her work and her hobby she celebrates the beauty and richness of age. She respects the residents for who they are each day, knowing they too are classics, each in their own unique way. 

Margaret Ritter follows along during a dulcimer lesson with Crystal's help. Ritter played "My Old Kentucky Home" from memory. Donations and a gift from Molly's Mission, a Cynthiana charity, support the residents' new music program.
Crystal ends her work day in the early evening light outside the Cedar Ridge Health Campus building.
At home, Crystal shares her husband's love of classic cars with him in their garage. They spend most weekends at cruise-ins and car shows. "Some people probably think we're crazy," she says.
Joe Prather and Crystal keep two of their classic cars in "Joe's Garage." Joe says he used a cheesy line – "Are you taking applications for new friends?" when he sent Crystal a message on kiss.com.
After greeting her husband with a kiss when he returned from work in Lexington, Crystal tells Joe about her day with the residents at Cedar Ridge.
In the morning at her kitchen table, Crystal prays for her family and sometimes the seniors she serves. "Sometimes I pray with them, I ask them if it's okay," she says.
After serving him dessert, Crystal sat next to a Cedar Ridge resident who was seated alone at lunch. "You've got a lot of good stories," Crystal told him.
Crystal works at her desk. The sticker on her laptop says "old people are cool." Her office is connected to the recreation wing of the building.
On Halloween, Crystal encouraged residents to participate in the festivities of the day by dressing up in costume and was delighted when she saw Joyce Mitchell, of Paris, turned into Audrey Hepburn for the day. Crystal is dressed as a 1950s pin-up girl with Halloween flair.