“Music has been my life since I was young. And now I get to share my passion with other people,” said Hannah Whittaker, director of life enrichment at Rushseba Station in Rush City. “It brings me so much joy to see others react to music.”
Growing up playing the piano, flute, and saxophone––not to mention singing in choir––Hannah decided to study music therapy in college. After graduating, she cared for patients at the end of life. “Once I started working for a hospice center, I saw firsthand how much comfort and support music can bring to patients and their families,” she said. “I’ve been with families as they sing to loved ones taking their last breaths. Music can turn something so sad into something special, a beautiful and peaceful memory.”
Hannah brought that same calm and comfort to residents at Rushseba when she joined the team in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I was able to connect with residents in a hard time. I saw their faces light up when they recognized songs they hadn’t heard in decades,” she shared. “Nonverbal residents suddenly sang along. Music really does bring a spark of life.”
In addition to music programs, hymn sings, and one-on-one visits, Hannah offers a wide range of activities to residents. From restaurant outings and fishing trips to movie nights and BINGO games, there's no shortage of opportunities to connect, learn, and have fun at Rushseba.
Like the notes that make up a song, Hannah knows small interactions and little details are part of something much bigger. “I love the residents and my coworkers. We have a great team. I get to come to work each day and do more than lead activities... I get to be there for people,” she said. “From hearing about their weekend to seeing photos of grandchildren, I am honored to learn about their lives. It’s a very rewarding job.”