CCNH Difference Makers – David Sanders

“Difference Makers” is a blog series highlighting some of the many amazing employees at Catholic Charities New Hampshire, each making a positive impact on the individuals, families and communities we serve, in their own unique ways.

Today, meet David Sanders, the senior director of environmental service at St. Ann Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Dover. Everyone at St. Ann knows David – he’s “Mr. Fix It.” Each day, he cares for the building that 85 beloved residents are proud to call home.

How long have you worked at St. Ann Rehabilitation and Nursing Center?

I started at St. Ann back in 1978. I’ve been here for 41 years!

What does your typical day look like?

Flexibility is the biggest part of my job. I get here at 6:30 a.m., do my rounds, and make sure everything in the building is warm, dry, well-lit and happy. I then start in on maintenance requests made the night before. Nurses on the night shift will write any requests from the residents and I will follow up on them the next morning. They can be anything from replacing batteries in the remote controls to finding lost dentures. Every day here is different. I then focus on other priorities as I attend to all of the building’s needs, ensuring everything is safe and taken care of. My tasks range from property maintenance to maintaining emergency programs and codes to managing the housekeeping and laundry team.

What do you enjoy most about working at St. Ann?

I enjoy the variety in my job and I love the residents. I am taking care of their home. My grandparents died when I was young, so coming here and being part of this family is incredible. I care for the 85 residents like they are my own grandparents. They all mean a lot to me.

Why is St. Ann a special place?

St. Ann is like family – I don’t know how else to explain it. When you are in the facility, it feels like home. I have been here for quite a while and it’s what I’ve grown to know and love.

What is so unique about the Catholic Charities culture at St. Ann?

What makes us unique is the genuine compassion and care we offer. As an organization, Catholic Charities NH touches so many lives across the state. Our reach is beyond what I can grasp.

What does working here mean to you?

To me, it means being part of a family and giving back. Each resident has a story to tell. There’s one gentleman that I salute every time I see him because he’s a Korean War veteran. He always smiles back and says thank you. It’s knowing that I’m making a difference for them, whether they have been here two years or 20.

How has working at St. Ann helped with your professional development?

St. Ann has allowed me to grow. When I started here back in 1978, I was in the dish room three days a week doing dishes after school. When the summer came, I started to cut the grass. Once I graduated from high school, I started working in maintenance. While my role and responsibilities have grown, I’m still cutting the grass to this day!

What have you gained from working at St. Ann?

I’ve gained personal fulfillment. When I get up in the morning and I’m having my cup of coffee, I can’t think of a day where I have said “Oh no, I have to go to work.” I love my job and what I do. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have stayed here for 41 years.

David Sanders with members of the St. Ann Rehabilitation and Nursing Center team.

What is most rewarding about your work?

The residents – knowing they are comfortable, happy and their needs are met. That’s our purpose and why we do what we do.

What is one of your favorite memories working at St. Ann?

There’s too many to count, but one that comes to mind is of a resident named Pearl. She was in long-term care for many years. Over time, Pearl and I became great friends. When she passed, her family came and cleaned out her armoire. In the back of the armoire was a picture of Pearl and me. It showed me that I had made a difference in her life and meant a lot. I still have that picture.

Describe St. Ann Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in 3 words?

It’s like home.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work? What are some of your hobbies?

I love to fish! I fish in the summer and winter. In the summer, I come home from work, go out on the boat and fish the afternoon away and think nothing of it. Time flies when I’m out on the water.

What do you love about New Hampshire?

I love the lakes and the fishing opportunities they bring, of course. But I also love the four seasons and that you can enjoy the lakes, mountains, and beaches all in one state.

What is your favorite vacation spot?

We have a camp on Sebasticook Lake in Maine. I go up with the wife and kids year-round. We call it “Camp Beats-a-Tent.”

What is your favorite motto or quote?

It’s nothing famous, but I use one phrase quite often, “It’s what we do.” It applies to a lot of things. Instead of saying “you’re welcome” when someone says “thank you,” I tell them, “it’s what we do,” because it’s why we are here.

What is your favorite movie?

I don’t really have time to watch movies, but when I do, I love action movies. “Training Day” with Denzel Washington is one of my go-to films.

Who is a person you admire most?

My two children – they are both very accomplished. My son was in the Army, became a police officer, a police chief and now works for a company that does corporate mentoring programs. He achieved all of that on his own dime. My daughter is an EMT and is putting herself through college. They are an inspiration to me and I’m very proud of both of them.

Who is a person you’d most like to meet?

Charlie Moore – he’s known as the Mad Fisherman. I’d love to fish with him someday – it would be fun.

If you were to write a book above yourself, what would you name it?

It would be called, “You Just Can’t Make It Up.” With the things I’ve seen and heard in life – you just can’t make them up!

What is one thing people might not know about you (or be surprised to find out)?

I like to tie flies for when I go fly fishing. I have a little set up in the basement where I tie.

Are you interested in becoming a key part of our team and helping others, like David is? Click here for our many job openings in healthcare, social services, administration and more!