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Hearts of Immanuel | Youlanda Clay

Hearts of Immanuel is a series dedicated to the amazing employees that work within our communities and centers. Every day the Immanuel mission is lived out in the way these individuals treat residents, participants and staff. It is always a treat to get to know more about our employees and what makes them unique!

For our next feature, we spoke to Youlanda Clay, receptionist at Immanuel Village and talented musician.

How long have you been working for Immanuel?

I’ve been with Immanuel for 14 years and I love my job.

What is your position?

I started at AgeWell as a receptionist and just recently took the receptionist position at Immanuel Village on May 1. 

Tell me about your experience working for Immanuel?

I’m pretty much self-taught, because I had no previous computer experience. While I was at AgeWell, I had the opportunity to teach some of the residents computer classes. In times past, we’ve had people who would come and teach computer class, but some of the residents didn’t get the computer lingo. I try to keep it as simple as possible so they can understand, and they appreciate that. I tell them all the time, it’s like playing a piano, you have to practice, practice, practice!

What is it like interacting with the residents?

I try to treat all of them the same. Teaching computer classes and coming down to some of the other activities at AgeWell has allowed me an opportunity to get closer to the residents and get to know them. Now that I’m at the front desk and work with directories and birthday lists, I can put a name to a face. I like hearing their stories. They make me laugh. I don’t treat them any different than I would treat my own family, and I think they appreciate that.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Outside of Immanuel Village, I like playing music. I’m a minister of music at Allen Chapel AME Church in Omaha. I’ve been their minister of music for over ten years. I sing and play piano and organ. I also direct the choir and oversee the worship service. Occasionally, Pastor Peggy asks me to come over and sing for the home office. I enjoy bowling. And I like having jam sessions with other musicians in the city.

How did you get involved in music?

I started at the age of six. I play by ear. My father, he’s a minister. He pastored a church in West Point, Mississippi. One day he sang a song and said, “I’m going to ask my daughter to come up and play this.” I looked over at my mother and said, “I don’t know how to play this piano.” My mother said, “Go on up there, you’ll be fine.” And I kid you not, I’d never touched the piano before. My father called me up, sang the song, and it was like God just took my fingers and I played it. No piano experience. It was a gift from God.

Does music help you connect to other people?

Music is a ministry, and anything that I can do to minister to other people, I prefer doing that. When I sing songs, I try to present songs that will minister to myself. If it ministers to me, I’m sure it will minister to others. That’s my hope and prayer, and I usually have people come up and tell me that the song touched their heart. I consider myself dedicated to God’s will. God has been so good to me and sharing my gift with others…I would consider that a reward.

Any closing remarks?

Immanuel’s mission is what it’s all about. This is what I try to live by – being Christ-centered. This is what God put me here to do, and I believe that with all my heart. I say, when I get older and become a senior, I want to live in one of the Immanuel communities.

If you have a heart for seniors and are interested in joining the Immanuel family, please check out our careers page for openings across our communities and centers.