The holidays are fast approaching, and, for many, ‘tis the season for purchasing presents, decking the halls and making holiday party plans. However, the holidays can be a lonely time for senior citizens, especially those living in assisted living facilities without family members close by.
“A lot of seniors, if they don’t have family, it’s a time of reflection and so it kind of becomes almost a sad time of year just because of all the loss that they’ve had,” says Jordan Schilling, the Activity Director for Haven Homes in Maple Plain. “We try and do the best that we can to make it a joyous occasion.”
This year, Schilling says a new "adopt a senior" program at Haven Homes and Bryant House, both senior living facilities in Maple Plain operated by Cassia, aims to connect seniors and the community to enrich the holiday season for everyone.
Nearly 60 senior residents of Haven Homes and Bryant House have completed holiday wish lists, and interested community members can contact Schilling to receive a list and help ensure that each senior receives a personalized gift this Christmas.
“A coworker actually saw the idea online and then said, ‘we should do this!’” says Schilling. “We kind of just went with it and it’s been really great. We’ve had a lot of community members say they’d love to help out and make this time special for the seniors.”
Right now, the staff is in the process of compiling the wish lists, then the lists will be sent out to individuals that have signed up to adopt a senior. Those interested in providing a special gift for a senior are encouraged to reach out to Schilling via the Haven Homes Facebook page or by contacting Schilling directly at (763) 479-8026 or Jordan.firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Our staff has always tried to get at least a little something every Christmas for our residents, but this is the first year that we are going to try and involve the community in order for them to give back and promote that community feel for all of our seniors here,” Schilling says.
Schilling says that individuals, families and even local businesses have reached out about participating, and the hope is to make "adopt a senior" an annual affair.
Schilling says they’d like to have all the gifts by Dec. 17 so the staff has time to sort them in preparation for a gift exchange during the residents’ Christmas party.
Though not all the wish lists are in yet, Schilling says that many of the seniors are requesting simple items like clothing for Christmas.
“Just things that they need that family might not be able to provide on their own or that they can’t go out for themselves and get,” Schilling notes. “As simple as a new sweatshirt or a couple new pairs of socks.”
"Adopt a senior" is a unique way for local seniors and community members to brighten one another’s lives.
“With the help of the community, we’re hoping to do that,” Schilling says.
In addition to the "adopt a senior" initiative, Haven Homes and Bryant House host an annual Christmas dinner party for residents and their families, and, once Cassia’s new building in Maple Plain is completed, Schilling says that they plan to host more community events in the coming years.
“It’s an exciting time,” she says. “Once our new building is up and running, we will have more space so that we can fit everybody in one spot.”