As Kathy walked into the nursing home her mother looked at her in astonishment and said, “I thought you weren’t coming back.” Little did Kathy know that those words would spur her towards a mission. A mission that would impact countless other lives.
In 2014, Kathy Rogers found herself in one of the hardest times of her life. Her mother had suffered a stroke and now was needing to go to a nursing home for rehabilitation. The morning after Kathy brought her mother to the facility, she returned to visit her. It was then that her mother spoke the words that went directly to Kathy’s heart.
Kathy’s mother spent 30 days in that nursing home during which time Kathy visited her daily. During her regular visits, Kathy noticed that her mother was not the only one struggling with thoughts of abandonment or loneliness. There were other residents that were experiencing the same thing. Kathy thought of all the good times her family had experienced with her Great Uncle Mitt living in their home. She saw the faces of her elderly relatives in the faces of the residents sharing the facility with her mother, and it was then her heart broke for them. She knew she wanted to help but how was she going to?
As Kathy and her husband Lee thought about how to help, they began to wonder if they could encourage others to volunteer to visit nursing homes. They started the journey to bring that “what if” to life. They reached out to local newspapers and media outlets to promote the event they had dubbed, “Adopt a Grandparent Day.” During the first year, they visited 19 facilities with over 200 volunteers participating. Thus, the organization was born.
Since those early beginnings of “what ifs,” the organization is now a registered non-profit 5013C, serving six Mississippi counties and over 30 facilities. Kathy knows the lives of residents and volunteers are being changed. Through their efforts, people are more aware of the plight of the residents of nursing homes and the fact that pre-COVID, 60% of nursing home residents had no outside visitors. With the restrictions caused by COVID, the rates of loneliness and depression are only growing worse.
With COVID still impacting our lives, in-person visits are still not an option but Kathy knows that with a little creativity a smile and can still be delivered. This year, the smile will be in the form of a treasure box. These boxes packed with items such as journals, hankies, games, personal care items, and cards of encouragement will be delivered to facilities on September 11, 2021, the official Adopt a Grandparent Day.
The boxes will be packed with the help of volunteers filling each box with a heart to serve others in their community. This packing party will take place on September 4, 2021, at 10:30 a.m. at Northwood Church 14281 O’Neal Rd Gulfport, MS 39503. There is still a need for volunteers so join us at the church to pack each of these treasure boxes with items and prayers of encouragement to our elderly citizens in need of a smile.