Christmas Celebration at Arden Wood Nursing Home: South Houston, TX
Every culture values the elderly and the collective wisdom that they accrue through age and experience. A Chinese proverb likens them to gold treasure while the Bible calls the “gray hair of experience as the splendor of the old” (Proverb 20:29). Sri Sathya Sai Baba has said, “The divine force latent in elderly persons is beyond the reach of the youth”1 and urged youth to show respect and reverence for their elders. Taking these words to heart, volunteers from Sri Sathya Sai Center of South Houston, chose to bring Christmas cheer to the elderly residents of the Arden Wood Nursing Home.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, residents of long-term care facilities have experienced an even greater sense of isolation. Sai volunteers from South Houston used to visit the Arden Wood Nursing Home for about two decades, bringing joy to the residents during these visits by playing bingo, awarding door prizes, and distributing snack items. With Covid-19, these visits unfortunately came to a halt.
During the recent holiday season, about 15 Sai volunteers, including Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) children, resumed their visit to the nursing home and celebrated Christmas Eve with 25 residents.
Volunteers helped several residents from their rooms to the main hall which had been decorated by the staff. SSE children, dressed in festive attire, lifted everyone’s spirit in a jubilant singalong of several popular carols and holiday songs such as Silent Night, Joy to the World, Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Frosty the Snowman.
Residents’ faces lit up as they listened to the children’s sweet voices; several joined in and merrily sang along. The joyous caroling was followed by volunteers distributing gift bags that contained a mug, a blanket and a pair of socks. To the residents’ delight, they were then treated to snacks and sugar-free ice cream.
Sai volunteers thoroughly enjoyed their visit knowing that they had brought moments of Christmas cheer and lifted the spirits of the residents as well as helped reduce their sense of loneliness. Samhita Suresh, an SSE student, described her experience, “When I was singing carols, it made me feel happy. The look of joy on the residents' faces was more than enough to make my day. I felt happy because they were happy.”
One of the staff at the nursing home, Ms. Celestine Semien, thanked the volunteers, “I would like to thank the Sai Group for coming out today, and helping us celebrate Christmas by giving out gifts and serving ice cream. They have been of great service here at Arden Woods. We appreciate all that you do. Thank you for making our residents’ lives a great joy.”