It is funny for me to read the article that I wrote back in 2009. I include it because it reminds me of the very beginning. Then the project changed in so many ways – distributed over 11,000 new and gently-used stuffed animals to the residents. All donated by family, friends and the readers of my posts on Craig’s List. Then I passed out thousands of Team of Angel pins to the residents.
A Letter from the Founder, Patricia Gallagher
THE POSTING BELOW WAS WRITTEN WHEN I FIRST STARTED MY VISITS TO NURSING HOMES.
I began the Stories for Seniors Project in December, 2009. I am grateful to all who have reached out to help me. I wanted to share it because so much has happened since I wrote these words. I COULD NEVER HAVE IMAGINED HOW “INVOLVED” I WOULD BE IN VISITING SENIORS IN HEALTHCARE FACILITIES, PEOPLE LIVING IN AIDS HOSPICES AND RECOVERY HOUSES.
December 14, 2009
I do not know where the Storytelling for Seniors is leading me. I just know that the past six weeks have been one of the greatest “highs” of my life. I understand why. Perhaps, I should not be so transparent on a post such as this, but why not?
I am an “empty-nester.” My four children are in their 20’s. They are living on their own. I am separated from my husband. We get along very well but there is a void in my life.
I did not work at a corporate job while I was raising our family. I was an entrepreneur. I wrote a few books, did a lot of speaking engagements, and taught classes at the community colleges about starting a home business and a variety of topics. But, I was not the breadwinner for the family.
So now, at age 58, I am a bit out of sorts. What is my purpose? Why am I here? What should I be doing with my life? People have said to me, “Trisha, you need to focus.”
So, when I got the idea for the Stories for Seniors, I became very excited about it. My van is filled with wonderful “props” that I purchased at thrift shops – most related to the 1940’s and 50’s.
The props tie in with the stories that I read to the residents and to the Reminiscence Activities that I do to stimulate interesting conversations. And since it is Stories for Seniors, I wanted each resident to have a soft blanket and stuffed animal, a token of comfort. This new type of joy is filling the empty part in my heart where the kids, their activities, a houseful of their friends and my life as married woman with a husband used to be.
Not everybody in the assisted living facilities is elderly. There are many young people who tragically have suffered strokes or falls; who have had accidents or affected by a debilitating disease such as MS.
In a blink of an eye, that could be us or one of our loved ones. We do not know what tomorrow may bring. What would we want people to do for us?
I am thinking about my plans. My heart is warmed at the thought of visiting a few senior-care facilities or VA hospitals this week. Reading stories to the residents and offering them the comfort of a soft blanket and cuddly stuffed animal might be the new chapter in my life.
I know I heard my mother say over the years, “It is better to give than to receive.” Now, at age 58, I know that is true.
Would you like to help in some way? Please call and let me know your ideas on how we can collect stuffed animals and lap blankets, afghans, crocheted or knitted blankets or pretty baby blankets for the Vets and seniors in care facilities. Just give me a call. I would love to speak to you.
Patricia C. Gallagher – BA, MBA
267 939 0365
MISSION STATEMENT: (We are no longer doing the Stuffed Animal and Afghan Program. All efforts are now focused on the Happy Flower Day Project. http://www.patriciausa.com)
The Stories for Seniors Program formerly distributed new and gently-used stuffed animals and lap blankets such as crocheted, knitted and quilted afghans and fleece throw blankets to offer care and comfort to seniors living in nursing homes, retirement communities, Veterans’ Hospitals and shelters.
I like this quote from Daphne Rose Kingma. It reminds me of the kindness of all of the generous people who have reached out to help the Stories for Seniors Project:
“Kindness is twice blessed. It blesses the one that gives it with a sense of his or her own capacity for love, and the person who receives it with a sense of the beneficence of the universe. The power of kindness is immense. It is nothing less, really, than the power to change the world.”
THANK YOU TO ALL THE INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE HELPED US TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE THIS YEAR.
Patricia C. Gallagher
The Stories for Seniors Project
And who were the Seniors a few short years ago? What were they doing? And what did they look like? Here are a few interesting photos!