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Vivian Gerke (BFA 1991) captures, expresses and shares her client’s stories through art
The alumna was recently awarded $1000 as part of Nurse Next Door’s caregiver recognition program, Bold Dreams and Goals, and will be using it towards her practice

Vivian Gerke is both an artist and a caregiver. The alumna works with Nurse Next Door, an in-home care provider. Amy Hodge from Nurse Next Door shared this feel-good story with us, emphasizing that Vivian is one of their star caregivers.

“She works tirelessly to make a difference in the lives of seniors each and every day. Her commitment and compassion are second to none,” said Amy. “She is driven by her passion to make lives better and we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without her incredible work.”

Founded in Vancouver in 2001, Nurse Next Door helps seniors celebrate aging while providing the highest quality of care. From golf and swimming to pottery and music, their Happier Aging philosophy ensures that seniors can age safely in the comfort of their own homes. They are matched with the perfect caregiver to reconnect them with their interests, hobbies, and passions that might have been lost over the years.

When asked what Happier Aging means to her, Vivian shared that it is being able to share stories. “Listening!” continued Vivian. “I have a client who is 102 years old, she has felt much sorrow and happiness in her lifetime. She has many thought-provoking stories to tell.”

Nurse Next Door launched Bold Dreams and Goals as their caregiver recognition program. “Professional Caregivers constitute a large population of workers whose work is essential but also largely underappreciated,” said Amy. “Caregiving as a career was created to shift the perception of caregiving and ensure that it is seen as the noble and rewarding career that it is.”

“Bold Dreams and Goals ensures that caregivers are recognized for their hard work and celebrated for the difference they make to the lives of seniors in their community,” continued Amy. “Ten caregivers were each awarded $1,000 to put towards their goals.”

Vivian was one of those caregivers and has opted to use the prize to turn the stories of her clients into art pieces. “I am not only a Caregiver at heart but also an artist,” shared Vivian. “My bold story would be expressed through visual portraits, sketches, photos, and the client’s own words summing up who they are as people.”

The artist continued to explain that it would be a wonderful opportunity for her clients to see their dreams turn into my dreams of making art. “Simply put, it is an opportunity to reveal my heart as a caregiver, and display my ability as an artist,” she said.

“Art has always been for me a cathartic process, a way to express my inner emotions and bring meaning to my life,” said Vivian, as part of her artist’s statement. “Over the last year as a caregiver, I’ve come to know the clients I interact with. I don’t see age, but rather a lifetime of adventure I’ve been given the privilege to memorialize through art.”

Vivian continued: “I’m the lucky one transported to a place of happiness, recalling with them the places they have been and the youth that is still burning in their hearts. Through visual portraits and narrative sketches, I hope to record for posterity the spirit within these people I see daily.”

Vivian Gerke, courtesy of Nurse Next Door
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