JACKSON – A recent fundraiser for an adoption program brought tears, smiles and glad hearts, but it wasn’t infants who were being adopted – it was seniors.
Adopt-A-Senior has been operating for more than four years now and its goal is bring some light into the lives of seniors and let them know they are valued and have not been forgotten.
The group’s motto is “Seniors Should Never Be Forgotten,” and Adopt-A-Senior has been making sure that it fulfills that mission every day by remembering birthdays, holidays and granting wishes when possible.
Margaret Morris, the director of the Adopt-a Senior organization said the recent “Fall is in the Air” fundraiser “was a huge success! One hundred people came out to support us at the tricky tray fundraiser.
“We are so happy that we reached our goal. The highlight of the event, for us, was actually having some of the seniors from the long-term facilities attend the event and win some prizes. There were definitely some tears of joy that afternoon,” she said. The fundraiser netted $4,500.
Annye Cohen serves as co-founder of Adopt-a-Senior Organization. She said that she worked for at Walt Disney for 10 years and also been involved in helping an infant unit before starting to crochet items for seniors. When her job was phased out, Cohen decided it was time she put her passion into helping seniors full time. “My mom said this was a great time to form a non-profit and I got approval in March of 2014.”
“I first helped out at a nursing home in Manhattan. We observed birthdays, holidays and special events. We were seeing 400 people in 2014 providing small gifts and parties for seniors’ birthdays and holidays. Now we have more than 1,300 seniors,” she said.
Cohen added that “seniors should never be forgotten. Some have family across the country and it is difficult for them to visit and others have family close by who sadly, for whatever reason, don’t visit them all that often. I have a grandmother who is 94 and she is very active but I know from her that at this stage in your life, the most valuable thing you can receive from someone is a simple hand touch, a conversation, and hearing them.
“They talk to us about sports and their lives and any number of things. We try to spread a little sunshine into their lives and now the holidays will be upon us and we have some special projects for that,” Cohen said.
Morris said the organization has a “birthday patrol” that goes to several Jackson senior facilities and honors those having birthdays.
Cohen said that “we gather a wish list of and we get them some items within our means – be it a Dallas Cowboys T-shirt or something very simple. We try to always treat them with dignity and respect.
“We don’t want to grow too big that we lose that personal touch. We do what we can with our five – soon to be six – volunteers. We bring them party hats and balloons and gifts during birthdays,” Cohen said.
The group delivers gifts to the seniors at the developments of Sunrise and The Orchards of Jackson.
“December is when we really create some magic and make the holidays the most wonderful time of the year for the seniors,” Morris said. “We’ll be delivering gifts to all the residents at Sunrise and The Orchards.”
“We bring some excitement and atmosphere to them and we talk about our lives and they talk about theirs. You meet some very interesting people. I met a saxophone player from a famous band and a former Copacabana girl,” Cohen said.
Cohen said that “we are starting our wish lists now.”
She added that the group has received support from local Girl Scouts and a donation of $50 supports a senior for the whole year which, includes birthdays and holidays.
“Jackson Memorial High School students did a sock drive for us. The seniors never really ask for anything excessive,” Cohen said.
“I live in Brooklyn, which is three and a half hours away, but one time we had a snow storm and the residents were amazed I came in snow. I once came during my own birthday and some people asked me why I’d want to spend my birthday doing this but this is special to me. There is nothing like 80 seniors singing Happy Birthday to you. It is the best way to spend my birthday,” she said.
For further information about the organization and how to support it visit their website at www.adopt-a-senior.org/