STAFFORD – With their mission to spread love during this difficult time, the new program Adopt-A-Grandparent is successfully bringing smiles to seniors in Stafford Township.
The Residence at Stafford Assisted Living Facility has partnered with the Manahawkin based balloon decorating service, Celebration Creations, to give each resident a bouquet of fun colorful balloons.
The owner of Celebration Creations Stephanie Cofield explained how the Adopt-A-Grandparent program was envisioned and created because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The program began sort of as a discussion between a group of balloon artists. We’re a part of a nation-wide organization of certified balloon artists, and from time to time we collaborate and discuss during gifting seasons,” Cofield said. “We were talking about Valentine’s Day coming up and we just got to taking about the pandemic and what it has done to people and the effects it had on the community. Particularly the senior community because they’ve been shut away from their families, most of them are only able to look through a window sometimes at their family members. So, we thought wouldn’t it be cool if we could deliver some balloons to them.”
The idea behind Adopt-A-Grandparent grew quickly and now it has become a nationwide program throughout numerous facilities across the country.
“We came up with this idea and during our group call everyone said ‘let’s do it.’ We started reaching out to nursing home facilities and the program just caught on nationwide,” Cofield said.
The program works with several assisted living and nursing home facilities for seniors, some residents having Alzheimer’s or dementia.
“I’ve seen their reaction and it just brightens their day,” Cofield said. “The facilities love the idea. They are looking forward to balloons being delivered and they know the impact that it has on the residents and they’re looking and waiting for the community to adopt them and bring them in.”
Cofield researched that within Ocean County alone, there’s over 60 facilities and approximately 3,500 to 4,500 residents in assisted living care. Many of those residents have been stuck alone, away from any family or visitors for the past 10 months due to the pandemic.
The goal within the program is to get enough donations so that every resident at the facility gets a balloon. For every 10 donations Celebration Creations receives, they personally add another balloon donation to the group. The Residence at Stafford currently have a total of 66 residents and the program is almost completely filled.
“We are fast approaching our 66 residents at the Stafford location so I’m excited to be delivering their balloons,” Cofield said. “After we’re finished there we’ll be moving onto the next facility. So as each facility gets fully adopted, we do a one swoop delivery, everybody gets balloons. We even give something for the caregivers and that’s our donation.”
Celebration Creations plans to take on as many facilities as they can, and spread love of the Adopt-A-Grandparent program throughout the county.
“The goal is to do Ocean County. Currently, we’re donating at two Brandywine facilities in Toms River and Brick, the Barnegat Rehab and the Residence at Stafford. I have Little Egg Harbor next,” Cofield said.
Cofield is encouraging everyone in the community to join in and donate to the Adopt-A-Grandparent program. Whether its single person donating, or a local business or church who can adopt a whole community, anyone can get involved.
“We encourage everyone in the community to get involved. People always ask ‘who can adopt? I don’t know anyone in a facility.’ The point is it’s not for people that you know; there’s so many people that don’t have people thinking of them at this time so anyone in the community can help. Anyone who would like to send some love to these people are welcomed to get involved,” Cofield said. “We also have volunteers who help assist and assemble balloons and even help with delivery. People have really gotten excited about the idea and I’ve had people call me asking if they could help and I said sure. Anyone is welcomed to help.”
Celebration Creations plans to have the program run until they take care as many facilities who agrees to partner with the program. Cofield believes it will run through about May.
“I just think it’s something great to do for the community and for these people who have been locked away. It’s something that we can do to brighten their day,” Cofield said.
It is $20 to sponsor a resident in the Adopt-A-Grandparent program. The donation gives a resident a Balloon Buddy & Hug Card. To adopt a resident or for more information about the program, visit celebrationcreations.biz/adopt-a-grandparent.