Poet’s Walk Fredericksburg is proud to share this article as seen on Fredericksburg.com
December 22, 2016
Lifepoint Church day care participants are regular visitors to Poet’s Walk Fredericksburg’s memory-care patients and have forged relationships. Above, Leah Dye, 6, gives Barbara Rogers a hug goodbye after making ornaments on Thursday.
By Amanda Vicinanzo
Poet’s Walk Fredericksburg overflowed with Christmas spirit on Wednesday morning.
As 12 children from Lifepoint Church day care filed through the doors of the assisted-living community, the faces of the memory-care residents immediately lit up.
The young visitors did some exercises with the residents, who were finishing up their “Flex and Stretch” class, and then everyone got to work creating snowmen ornaments out of craft supplies and plastic coffee-cup lids.
Esther Seay (right) talks with Nick Palmer, Jermiah Paul and Abby Dye during the Lifepoint Church day car visit to Poet’s Walk on Thursday. The children brought crafting supplies and holiday cheer.
In some cases, the residents helped the children assemble the ornaments, and in others, the children helped the residents. Lorraine Philpot smiled ear to ear as they helped her put an ornament together. When she saw the finished product, her hands trembled with excitement as she held it up for everyone to admire.
Jackie McFarland, director of resident engagement, said moments like this always make her tear up.
“She never gets this excited,” McFarland said. “It is so beautiful to see.”
The children and residents chatted and munched on candy canes as they put together the ornaments. Afterward, the children gathered in the front of the room to sing carols.
“We really enjoy them,” said Barbara Rogers, a resident at Poet’s Walk. “I am so thankful to them for sharing the children with us.”
Melissa Zaegle of Lifepoint said the children have been visiting the community every month since the new facility opened about a year ago. They always do a craft and bring a treat. Zaegle said she tells the children to think of the residents like grandparents.
Annette Jones (left) and Tom England listen to preschoolers (from left) Harlan Rowe, Noah Brown and Nick Palmer as the group works to craft snowman ornaments Thursday.
“We tell them to just go in and love on them,” she said.
The love in the room was tangible. Zaegle said many of the children were shy during the first few visits, but started opening up to the residents after about three months. They now feel very comfortable with them.
“The children have become familiar with the residents and look forward to coming,” Zaegle said. “They
come in and give them hugs and talk with them. What’s amazing is that some of the residents, about half of the facility’s capacity.
The one-story facility includes multiple courtyards and walking paths, a beauty salon, a bistro and common areas where the residents can socialize and enjoy a bite to eat. McFarland explained that to help the residents feel more at home, the nurses wear regular clothes instead of uniforms.
While many residents have come to enjoy their new home, the holidays can get a little lonely. The staff arranged a variety of activities throughout the month to brighten the season for them.
Annette Jones, who sat decorating an ornament with Nick Palmer, 4, said she has lived in the community for about a year. She has three children who visit often, but she misses seeing little ones.
When Jones asked Palmer if he likes coming, he responded with an emphatic “Yes.”
Ruth Meekins, a 100-year-old resident, said she has lived in the community for several years and enjoys the company of people her own age. She spends her days doing puzzles to keep her memory sharp, and enjoys the holiday activities at the facility.
“I’ve lived a hundred years and seen a whole lot—I’m just lucky to be here,” Meekins said
McFarland said the outpouring of community support in the Fredericksburg area has been astonishing—not just during the holiday season, but since the facility opened.
“The community has been wonderful,” McFarland said. “I don’t have to look for volunteers. They all come to my door and ask how they can help.”