From 16 to Grandma at Wesley Homes

Sheryl Shaffer was a nine-year-old choir member for the Des Moines United Methodist Church when she came to Wesley Homes Des Moines for the first time. Her reaction to the beautiful building was, “Wow.” When she returned and applied at age 16 for a job as waitress, she did not dream that she would be working for the next 34 years in the “Wow Buildings”. In those 34 years, Sheryl has married, had three children (Amanda, Richard and Robert), become single, attended community college, studied graphic arts, learned the technicalities of photography, moved to the country where she grew her own vegetable garden, canned her own jams and relish, traveled and eventually became the grandmother to William and Shelby. Over the years, Sheryl has seen a lot of changes at Wesley Homes. “We’ve been through three carpets in The Terrace dining room, new lighting, lower ceilings and the demise of the reddish velvet wainscoting,” said Sheryl. “Food today is different, too. Then there wasn’t so much variety. We had small, individual salads instead of a salad bar, smaller tables and the not-so-comfortable chairs. A big change was when we went from serving meals on plastic Melmac and upgraded to china,” said Sheryl, adding, “Today’s chefs really care about what they are doing.” Sheryl starts work at 6:00 a.m. each morning. She inspects the dining room, puts out the fruit and juice and gets ready for breakfast. When not serving, she sets up for meals, vacuums, cleans and prepares for the next meal service. “We all work together, like a family,” she said, smiling. What is the most remarkable event she’s experienced as a waitress at The Terrace? Meeting Chef Cary Neff, author of Conscious Cuisine and creator of the Flavors 450 meals (using fresh, in season foods) offered at Wesley Homes. “He was a really down-to-earth guy,” said Sheryl. “When he heard how interested I was in food, he told me I should become a chef.” She also loves our annual Wesley Homes Open House. She really enjoys seeing future residents’ reactions to the dining room. She also enjoys the holidays and fondly remembers past elaborate decorations. Debbie Dreyer, a fellow staff member, praised Sheryl for her efficient work ethic and her pride in her job. Her manager, Assistant Director of Culinary Services Rob Kinney, said Sheryl is conscientious and works hard to please the residents. Culinary Services Supervisor Eleonzo Calderon appreciates Sheryl’s great sense of humor. We, the ones she looks after in the dining room, simply love her. by Pat King, Wesley Homes Des Moines resident