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Donations spread holiday cheer to seniors

By Jackie Lupo

Sister Alice Goldsmith receives a gift on Dec. 22.


HASTINGS — The holidays can be a lonely time for the elderly who have lost friends and relatives. Recognizing this, the staff at Andrus on Hudson has traditionally handed out simple gifts, such as boxes of candy, to each one of the nursing home’s 197 residents. But this year, the facility wanted to do more.

“This was actually brought up during one of our planning meetings with the recreational therapists,” Vincent Bonadies, director of community life and volunteers, told the Enterprise. He said one of the therapists, Ashley Scala, suggested starting a gift-giving program, particularly for residents whose families aren’t around, or who don’t receive a lot of visitors.

Bonadies talked it over with Judi Knispel, Andrus on Hudson’s director of development and community relations. “Vinny... said he would love it if we could find a way to personalize a gift for them, something they need, like slippers,” Knispel said. “I’ve known Pam Koner [founder of the Hastings nonprofit Family-to-Family] for years. I asked Pam if FTF would like to do this.”

Koner picked up the story from there. “Judi Knispel sent me an e-mail and said, ‘Do we think Family-to-Family could help us get gifts for some senior citizens who don’t have family locally?’ I thought maybe I could get Hastings and Dobbs Ferry residents to adopt a senior and give a gift.” Knispel provided her with 20 names of residents, and she posted the request for gifts on FTF’s Facebook page.

“I guess, within 24 hours, we had all the 20 assigned and a waiting list of another 20,” Koner said. “So I contacted Andrus again and spoke to Vinny and said, ‘I think we can use another 20.’ He said, ‘Sure, we can do that.’”

So many of FTF’s Facebook contacts wanted to help that the organization ended up delivering 91 individually selected gifts to the nursing home. Bonadies had sent Koner a list of the residents’ names and their gift wishes. The residents’ desires were simple: hand cream, stretchy bracelets, a Christmas sweater, warm socks. She matched recipients with donors, who dropped their gifts off at FTF’s storefront office on Warburton Avenue.

“What was so impressive was how some things were wrapped and packaged,” Koner said, “with little cards with the first and last names of the recipients. A lot of people wanted to meet their recipients.” Koner is now thinking about how to create more lasting linkups between FTF supporters and Andrus on Hudson residents.

“I’m excited about the next phase of this as well, because I think we’re going to try to create relationships,” Koner said. “We’re definitely doing Valentine’s Day, and they’re going to tell me who on our list has January birthdays.”

Bonadies also reached out to other organizations for help, and they, too, proved to be eager participants. Urban LifeSource, a New York religious charity, supplied 50 presents. The Hastings Police Benevolent Association came through with more gifts. So did the Little Leaf Nursery School, the preschool program located on the ground floor of Andrus on Hudson that holds intergenerational activities between their students and the nursing home residents.

The idea, originally to give a few of Andrus on Hudson’s residents a merrier Christmas, had mushroomed into a celebration for the nursing home’s whole population.

“Everyone is scheduled to get a gift,” Bonadies said on Dec. 22. “We’re in the process of organizing all the gifts and matching them up with the residents.” Members of the recreational therapy department played Santa later that day, as they went from room to room delivering the presents.

Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the Rivertowns Enterprise. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.


DECember 30, 2016

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