What food do you look forward to most during the holidays? Sweets often top people’s lists, whether it’s their mom’s pumpkin pie or a secret cookie recipe kept just within the family.
But we know it’s not only the delicious taste of the desserts that make these treats so special- — it’s the feeling of family and tradition that come with each bite. Unfortunately, some seniors in boarding homes don’t experience either one during the holidays.
That’s why the United Way Area Agency on Aging (UWAAA) Long-Term Care Ombudsman program started the Home “Sweet” Home initiative in 2020. To help sweeten the holidays for boarding home residents in Jefferson County, the Ombudsman staff organized a drive where community members provided a store-bought dessert to those unable to be with their loved ones due to COVID-19.
After receiving encouraging feedback from residents and volunteers, Home “Sweet” Home will happen again this December. Christine Belling, the manager at Dogwood Plantation Boarding Home, participated in the program last year, and she witnessed the positive effect it had on seniors.
Some residents will experience an extremely lonely season. They won’t get gifts, calls or cards that many of us come to expect every year. While it might seem like a small gesture, a sweet delivered at Christmastime can matter very much to those who need it most.
The Sentiment Behind the Sweet
“It’s the thought that counts.” You may have heard those words a lot when growing up and someone gave you a gift you were less than thrilled about. But the sentiment is so true – especially for boarding home residents. The thought means everything.
“We have one resident who is a diabetic, and when we were unloading all the sweets, she became sad at first, because she knew she couldn’t have them,” said Christine. “Then I said, ‘Wait a minute, Elizabeth. I think we have a sugar-free box!’”
Christine said Elizabeth was elated that a donor thought ahead. She participated in the celebrations with everyone else thanks to someone’s consideration of her needs.
Since residents in boarding homes are still at-risk for COVID-19 and must maintain social distancing guidelines, creating connections is more important than ever. Last year, Christine noticed that when seniors’ smiles lit up the room upon receiving the sweets, the same feelings showed on volunteers’ faces.
“Seeing the residents have a smile on their face, put a smile on their face,” said Christine.
The tradition continues this year, and you can be part of it. Drop off store-bought only cakes, cookies and pies to United Way of Central Alabama on Monday, December 20th and Tuesday, December 21st.