Random Acts

I love the expression, and the concept, of random acts of kindness, the idea that someone would do something unexpected to help someone else, without any expectations in return.  In a world where “quid pro quo” is often the doctrine, the idea of goodness for the sake of goodness seems to have no place.

In the world of older adult services I can tell you, with absolute certainty, that random acts of kindness happen every day and right now, during this time of crisis, we are seeing them on every front.  Let me give you a few examples.  While we have not allowed any visits in either the nursing home or assisted living for close to a month, staff have done a remarkable job trying to facilitate virtual visits via FaceTime, Skype or other applications.  And it’s not just the staff assigned to that task that are helping, others that are in the elder’s room, like therapists, are using their own devices to help make the connection for our elders and their loved ones. This week one of our amazing nurse managers in the nursing home went to every elder on her unit and took a picture of them.  She sent them all to our Director of Social Services who sent them to families, just so that they had both a smile and some reassurance.

Random acts of kindness have included outreach from a local rabbi who offered us a beautiful recorded Seder for our elders and ongoing programs including music and education.  We put out a call for fabric facemasks on social media. Those are to be used by elders without symptoms any time a staff member is in their room or apartment.  Within days there were hundreds of facemasks, all handmade, that were delivered to us.  They are every conceivable fabric, some had hearts drawn on them with marker and all of them were made with love.  One young girl, as her Bat Mitzvah project, made 100 masks and she and her mother brought them to our door, telling us that they are making more and that it is “the least they can do.”

We have had people create face shields and give them to us.  We have had community members sew isolation gowns and deliver them.  We have had family members reach out with gifts of food for the staff, the list goes on and on. And we have had so many messages of hope, appreciation and support from family members and from the community. Every word matters, every message is one that we share and treasure.

It is hard to find comfort in these times, hard to see the light we know is there at the end of the tunnel.  When all you can see is tunnel, these acts of selflessness, of compassion and kindness help us to light our way in the dark.

About the Author
Carol Silver Elliott is President and CEO of The Jewish Home Family, which runs NJ's Jewish Home at Rockleigh, Jewish Home Assisted Living, Jewish Home Foundation and Jewish Home at Home. She joined The Jewish Home Family in 2014. Previously, she served as President and CEO of Cedar Village Retirement Community in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is chair-elect of LeadingAge and past chair of the Association of Jewish Aging Services.
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