Tonight, 16 year-old Ben Williams won’t be thinking about the Neurofibromatosis that causes benign and sometimes painful tumors to grow in his nervous system. He’ll forget about the four hour MRI’s he receives twice a year requiring anesthesia. And he won’t give a thought to the news he received last Christmas that the tumor near his aortic arch has grown 20% larger.
He’ll be doing something way better.
The Laurel Highlands High School U.S. Air Force JROTC cadet is joining forces with Unity a Journey of Hope founders, John and Bobbi Robinson, and a handful of others on a special mission at eighteen hundred hours. That’s when they’ll bring a Christmas party to 18 adults who may well otherwise be forgotten.
They are the residents of Scenic View Personal Care Home in rural Greene County, PA, and range in age from 36-73 years old. Each one is mentally challenged and most have schizophrenia. “Many of them don’t have family. It means a lot when someone comes to visit,” said owner, Eileen Barnes.
The Impact of one Life
John, a visiting hospice nurse who sings Karaoke music to his patients, understands.
One of his patients is Nancy, who has Huntington’s Disease. He commented, “She does not speak and is 100 percent dependent on others to survive. She is only able to move her eyes and chew. It was while caring for her that the party idea, coined a “Christmas Eve Caper, came to me.”
Last summer, when visiting the nursing home, a conversation he had with Eileen turned to Christmas. She mentioned how things would be a little rough this time of year for the residents. “That’s when I decided that after years of procrastinating going there to sing, I would do it this year NO MATTER WHAT on Christmas Eve and we would have a party.
So often, my hospice patients tell me, ‘I am not worth anything, what good am I? I am useless!’ Well, if it was not for Nancy who is completely dependent inspiring the idea, the lives of these residents would not be touched. Just BEING is enough to IMPACT a life.”
A Celebration of Life
Ben’s mother, Sue commented, “What he has gone through has made all of my family more aware of other people. The reality of it is – there are so many fighting harder battles than what we’ve done last year. You never know when you’ll be on the receiving end needing a smile.”
Like, Eileen said, these residents do.
“Many of them are forgotten. They require 24 hour care and have gotten into trouble in other places they’ve been. But here, we are family. They love having people visit and just want someone to talk to.”
On this eve of our Savior’s birth – when another dependent life profoundly impacted so many others – there’s no place these Christmas Capers would rather be.