July 2004

Vivian Cosentino -
Making Seniors Aware of a Better Lifestyle


by Joseph H. RADDER

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   Vivian Cosentino loves her job because, so often, what she does leads seniors into a better way of life. As executive secretary to the president/CEO and director of community relations for the Niagara Lutheran Health System, it's her job to make seniors of all faiths and walks of life aware of the various facilities and services offered by her organization. Whether a person is in the "well-aging" category, needs assistance in the daily living routine, or requires full-time skilled nursing care or rehabilitation, the Niagara Lutheran Health System has a comfortable place for that person to live.

    These include GreenFields Continuing Care Community, consisting of GreenField Manor's residential apartment homes, the GreenField Court for assisted living in an apartment setting, and the GreenField Health and Rehabilitation Center, a state-of-the-art rehab and skilled nursing care facility. There is no entrance fee, and all three are on the same beautiful campus in Lancaster. Seniors who move into the community can expect priority access to whatever level of care they may need for the rest of their lives without having to leave The GreeenFields. The Rehab Center is also available to out-patients. It has unique features like the aquatic therapy pool, where the water is a constant 92 to 94 degrees. "Patients with arthritis, for example, tell us they are free from pain when they're in that pool" Vivian said from her experience.

    The Niagara Lutheran Health System also operates the Niagara Lutheran Home and Rehabilitation Center on Hager Street in Buffalo. The Niagara Lutheran Health Foundation is also located here and raises funds that are used to ensure that residents enjoy the highest quality of life possible.

    Vivian Cosentino joined the system six years ago as executive secretary to the president and CEO, Jurgen A. Arndt. When the Lancaster campus was under construction she got involved in setting up an information center out there and soon took on the various marketing aspect of the operation as well as administration. Once the residential and assisted living apartments were open she returned to the Health System headquarters in Buffalo and returned to her duties as executive secretary. She was soon given the additional title of Director of Community Relations. "The job started out as just public relations," she remembered, " but has now evolved into taking care of advertising and marketing as well.."

    Does Vivian Cosentino live and breathe senior health care 24 hours a day? Of course not. Like any sensible person, she makes time for recreation. "I love tennis," she said "My slogan is 'have racquet, will travel'." She's also very much involved as a volunteer with the Buffalo Therapeutic Riding program at the Equestrian Center near Delaware Park. "We have classes every Monday evening for children with disabilities. Riding, for some reason, helps these kids both emotionally and physically. You can see the difference. It's fantastic!" she enthused. So you see, even much of her recreation involves helping others.

    Vivian is also active in the Augustana Lutheran Church located at Colvin and Eggert Rd. She says the church's annual Swedish Festival in June is a highlight of her year because of her Swedish roots..

    Vivian Johnson, was born in Rockford Illinois in 1946, moving to Buffalo in 1968 to be with her husband, a native of Niagara Falls. Her dad was a tool and die maker in Rockford and her mom ran a beauty shop in their home as well as devoting many hours every day to her job as housewife and mother. Both her mother and father were avid golfers.

    Her brother lives on the state line between Illinois and Wisconsin. "His nearest neighbors are cattle", she said. "And from his home you can see miles and miles of Wisconsin."

    One of Vivian Cosentino's most vivid childhood memories is a sad one "I still remember the day, in 1963, when I was sitting in school and we heard that President Kennedy had been assassinated." On the more pleasant side, she remembers following the fortunes of the Chicago White Sox. "The year they were in the world series, they gave the scores over the school intercom." "I got my love of the outdoors from my Mom," she said. "In the summertime we'd be outdoors or go to one of the local parks, and she'd call my Dad and say 'meet us at the park for supper'"

    Vivian has a daughter, a son, and three grandchildren. Her daughter is Cynthia (Cindy) Parkes and her son is Paul Cosentino. The grandchildren are Chelsea, age 8, Tyler, age 5, and Hannah, age 4.

    She spent all of her younger years in Illinois, attending elementary school and high school in Rockford, then going on to Northern Illinois University, where she majored in French and earned a BA degree.

   Her first job was working as a car-hop, "but I didn't do roller skates", she laughs. "I always had summer jobs. I worked for Sears for awhile, for Rockford Medical Supply and for John W. Barnes Hydraulics. During my last years in college I worked in the foreign language office."

    Vivian moved to Buffalo right after graduating from college, and worked for the Western New York Regional Medical Program, affiliated with UB. She then became a full-time mother, except for a few part-time jobs in her home, including sewing draperies. When her children got older, she worked for Dale Carnegie Training, for the Sisters of St. Francis at the Sacred Heart Academy and for Neighborhood Legal Services. She also found time during this period to take classes in computer programming at Niagara County Community College..

    "At a time in my life when I was ready to take on more work-related challenges, my pastor suggested I contact the Niagara Lutheran Health System, and it turned out to be a fit." Clearly, Vivian Cosentino admires her boss, Jurgen Arndt. "His leadership skills are just fantastic," she said. Obviously this has a lot do do with the fact that she is very happy in her work.. Judging by the samples of the marketing communications pieces that she provided, we expect her employer is happy as well.

    Listening to Vivian tell about her career path and her struggles along the way, makes it easy to understand her philosophy of life: "Trust God and never give up." Fortunately for the Niagara Lutheran Health System and, all of its residents and patients, she didn't give up until she found her niche. And she's been making a difference ever since.

Joseph H. Radder, a frequent contributor to Living Prime Time, is author of a book, “Young Jesus, the Missing Years”. For more information, phone 1-888-280-7715 or visit www.1stbooks.com


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