Written and posted on Face Book by Sufi Stevens
Yet another one of Betty’s birthdays, and I get the pleasure of being with her on it. So grateful for her, and I know she’s just as grateful for me. Seniors need your help! Imagine being isolated, unable to leave your bed, and all your family and friends have passed away, or they’re too sick to visit. Love is love is love, and it goes a really long way with not much effort, I promise. My mama has always been my inspiration to give back in a big way.
Betty and I share so much in common that I usually look up at the clock, and 2 hours have already passed just like that.
I Love you, Betty!
We are so pleased to have begun our partnerships with both Balfour at Stapleton and Swigert International School this past year! The ongoing visits from elementary friends bring smiles to the faces of all the Balfour elders. Each week a new group from the school arrives ready to spread joy.
Swigert International School, like several of our other campuses, has made a unique commitment to allowing each of their students to visit the Balfour at Stapleton. We began with visits from 5th graders in the fall, 4th graders in the winter, and now, 3rd graders for the spring.
The elders at Balfour look forward to sharing their stories each week, and laughter abounds among the youth and elders. Our Bessie’s Hope team is so proud to see happiness emanating from the elders, compassion gained by students, and the bond built by the two during each visit.
Learn more about how to get your youth or school group involved here.
Learn how you and your friends and family can get involved here.
Vivian and Robert Duntsch met in Riverton, Wyoming in 1939, and love has blossomed through all the years! At a recent visit by “Community & Elders Program” volunteers from St Gabriel the Archangel Episcopal Church to Orchard Park Health Care Center, it was revealed that this couple had two significant celebrations this year. They are celebrating 75 years of marriage, and they are STILL SO in love! It is beautiful to see such enduring love and very special companionship. Robert is also celebrating his 100th birthday! He is now blind, but his positive personality is such a light. We thank Vivian and Robert and their son for allowing Bessie’s Hope to feature them and join in their inspirational celebrations.
See Community and Elders Program and get your work place or organization involved.
This program is a perfect volunteer opportunity for individuals and families to experience the most rewarding relationship with nursing home and assisted living elders who have little or no personal visitors. To get involved as a Family and Elders Program volunteer, go to that page on our website and fill out the application. Below is a story by one of our volunteers.
“It came up in conversation that Isidro had been an accomplished accordion player. I had an accordion at home, so I decided to bring it in on my next visit to see if he would like to play. When he saw the accordion, Isidro smiled, picked it up, and started playing beautifully. It was quite magnificent to see him shine. Many of the residents gathered chairs around him, and we all listened with joy as he played many songs he had memorized. Isidro said that the accordion was the “tool” he used when speaking for his church.
“It was so amazing to see him play, and he was fantastic, not missing one beat. This taught me a lot, because even though he is in a memory care facility, it was evident he still had not lost any of the memory relating to music or playing the accordion. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to share my love for accordion with Isidro. Thank you!” -Kristina Benson
iHeart Radio’s talk show host, Bailey, created “Gifts for Grands”, which gives her listeners the opportunity to purchase gifts for nursing home elders who have no visitors. Each elder gets to make a Santa Wish List, so the gifts are especially for that individual. Bailey has partnered with Bessie’s Hope for four years to coordinate with nursing homes and gather the wish lists. For the listeners to be able to experience the joy of seeing the elders’ faces light up from opening their special gifts, Bessie’s Hope facilitates a “Getting to Know You” group session that is followed by the elders opening their gifts. In 2018, there were three nursing homes involved.
Hampden Academy students have been visiting their Chelsea Place Memory Care grandpartners for over two years. The relationships between the youth and elder are very special to both age groups. Each monthly visit is like a family reunion, with laughter, hugs, singing, dancing, conversation and fun with whatever the planned activity for the day.
At the December visit, they participated in the Bessie’s Hope “Living History Project.” All the youth interviewed one or more elders. At their January visit, the youth will read over a mic their biographical sketches they have composed from the stories shared by the elders. The youth may also choose to bring something they have created or found that is representative of what they learned about the elder.
Summer is busy for Bessie’s Hope! We are honored to partner with organizations like DOOR and St. Francis Center, which host volunteer youth groups from across the country that have come to Denver to participate in community service. Bessie’s Hope provides education and training to the hundreds of youth and adults in these program, and we coordinate and facilitate their life-changing visits with our nursing home and assisted living elders. This summer alone we worked with groups from Arkansas, Texas, Minnesota and many more!
One group visiting at our elder care partners had several talented musicians who played the guitar and led the elders and volunteers in sing-alongs. The voices of young and old alike filled the space with joy at just being together. Another group had an adult leader who felt drawn to sit and chat with one of the elders and, as they chatted, found that both were below the knee amputees. They were able to discuss all that they had been through and found strength in sharing that bond with each other.
These stories of connections represent the heart of our work. We bring all generations together and remind each other that we are valuable. We all have stories to tell. We have so much to learn from each other. and the work continues.
Do you know a school or youth group that needs to be a part of the Bessie’s Hope magic? Click here to learn more about our Youth & Elders Program.