By Holly Glen Gearhart, Contributing Writer
“A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds.” — Saint Basil
Monday Dec. 23 is Regency Care Center’s resident present-opening day.
Regency hosts the one-day-a-year event in which all residents of their 92-bed retirement facility get together in the spirit of “family” for the holiday season to sing songs and open presents given to them by their “other family,” that is the family of this community: the people of Monroe.
“We are like a big family here,” says Kerri Day, activities coordinator for Regency Care Center on Main Street in Monroe. “No one goes unnoticed or uncared for.”
Regency is asking for help to make sure no senior goes without a gift this year, and the center is hoping local families will consider sponsoring one or two seniors, including them in holiday gift-shopping and delivering wrapped gifts to Regency by Dec. 19.
Gift-buying is a very meaningful way to care for the community’s elders. But it’s not the only way.
Giving the gift of time during what can be a lonely time of life is also a powerful way to give.
The oldest resident at Regency is 103 and a WWII Navy pilot; a veteran who served his country and returned to Monroe as a young man. He revels in the friends he has at the retirement home and lights up during the Christmas season, a staff member said. But his friends and family have passed on, which is the down-side of having such a long life.
Aging is inevitable. Some live longer than the familiar faces with whom they shared birthdays and fishing trips over the decades. What can happen is that memories become one-sided; the one who survives must remember only his or her side of personal stories.
And that is where community comes in. The most important thing a community can do is listen to the memories of someone who hasn’t anyone left who share them. That is why volunteers are so critical, especially during the holidays.
“The gift of another’s time is the best present anyone can give,” said Day. “Come over and play a hand of cards or dominoes or cribbage or just sit and listen to their stories.”
In a request posted online on the popular local Facebook page “You Had Me At Monroe,” Day put the word out to Monroe that she needed some help.
“Would you consider sponsoring a Senior Citizen?” she asked. “Many of our residents have little or no family and this time of year can add to feelings of loneliness.”
The community responded enthusiastically, with 57 residents of Monroe and its surrounding area ready to share their love with a total stranger to bake cookies, sing songs or play a game of cribbage. One mom wants to bring her young children so that they might learn the power of giving.
Another Monroe resident suggested, “My little girls and I are planning on making a bunch of handmade items and they would love to be able to hand-deliver them to some elders. It is something we would like to start as a tradition with them since they are getting to the age where we would like to teach them that the holidays are about giving not receiving.”
The gift of their time will be profoundly appreciated, said Day.
“A third of our 92 residents never have a visitor,” Day said. “What a wonderful way to kick off awareness of the needs of the elders of our community.”
It is a busy season, but if it is possible to take an hour off Dec. 23 to volunteer at present-opening day this year, or to think about how you could manage to give an hour of your time once a week or twice a month, it would mean a lot to someone who may have no one left in the world.
To sponsor a senior or several seniors, email activities@regencymonroe for names and gift ideas. Residents Day is Monday, Dec.23, 10:15 a.m.-noon at Regency Care Center, 1355 W. Main St., Monroe. To learn more, call (360) 794-4011.
“A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.” – Saint Basil