March 28, 2007 | By: Aimee Nielson
NEW CASTLE, Ky.

Frieda Burton has lived at Homestead Nursing Center for about three years. She wanted to brighten up her room with a new quilt, so she put it on her “wish list.” Soon, everyone was stopping by her room to see her new décor. Burton is one of the beneficiaries of a nationwide program called Second Wind Dreams, which the Henry County office of the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service is.

The extension office collaborates with the nursing home and other community partners to grant residents’ wishes, large and small. Some dreams involve more than one resident, as was the case recently when a group of residents went on a breakfast outing to a nearby Cracker Barrel restaurant, followed by a shopping trip to a local superstore in LaGrange. 

“You know they sometimes don’t have that opportunity to go out to the store and shop or go to Cracker Barrel like we did this morning,” said Earl Goff, Homestead administrator. “We sometimes forget they need that kind of stimulation, so this program reminds us and keeps us on our toes.”

Six residents made the breakfast and shopping trip with sponsorship from a local Extension Homemaker’s club and the Pleasureville Christian Church. 

“I think it’s great,” Burton said at the end of the trip. “We were talking about it coming down (to the Cracker Barrel). Sometimes you think people don’t care, but then someone comes by and you find out they do care. We’ve all enjoyed it.”

Since the program started in late 2006, 10 dreams have been realized. Maryellen Garrison, Henry County extension agent for family and consumer sciences, said the dreams have included room furnishings, clothing, hair permanents and even a trip to the movie theater complete with popcorn and diet sodas. The movie trip was so successful the nursing center hosted a second movie outing on its own. Goff said the theater opened just for the residents and made them feel very special.

“As you can see most of the dreams are not huge, so they are very doable,” Garrison said. “It’s not like we’re sending people to Disney World or Disneyland for a week. These (small dreams) are dreams that people want. Now someone has said their dream is to go to Kentucky Kingdom this fall, so we’ll have to see how that works.”

The Jericho Homemakers club is the oldest in Henry County, dating back to the 1930s. President Saundra Smith coordinated the group’s effort to sponsor breakfast for the residents at Cracker Barrel.

“When you’re in a confined environment like a nursing home it’s a big deal to go out, even if it’s only once a week, once a month. It’s a big deal to get out and be with other people and do activities we take for granted, that we are out in the community doing all the time,” she said. “It’s really been a fun program to be involved with. It’s not only beneficial to the residents of the nursing home, but it benefits the rest of us to, to know that we are doing something for people who can’t take care of themselves and do it for themselves.”

Goff said the program fits right in with a new movement in the nursing home industry referred to as “resident-centered care,” where they try to make life as normal as possible for residents. He said the program also boosts morale in his staff.

“This is going the second mile for them,” he said. “They could have said ‘no, I want to stay in the facility,’ but they wanted to come with these people because they want to see the expressions on their faces and they want to have a part of experiencing this day with them.”

“What’s been fascinating to all of us is that once the impetus of the program got started, there are so many individuals and groups in the county that want a part of this now,” said Steve Moore, Henry County extension agent for agriculture and natural resources. “It’s so neat to do something so small for us, but so big to some of the people who are recipients of this Second Wind Dreams program.”

Moore and Garrison said the program will overlap all extension programming areas, including 4-H youth development, and they plan to continue granting dreams as long as interest exists. With 60 residents at the center, there is a lot of work to do and, Garrison said, there are many dreams yet to fulfill. 

Second Wind Dreams is an international, nonprofit organization founded in 1997, based in Alpharetta, Ga. Its mission is to enhance the lives of those living in elder care communities by fulfilling dreams and delivering innovative educational programs. Henry County Cooperative Extension joins nearly 450 other “dreamweavers” in 40 states and four countries to make thousands of dreams come true.

Most dreams fall into six categories – relationship-based dreams (reunions with friends and family members), life-long dreams (achievements such as playing the piano again, attending the Kentucky Derby), dreams to relive past experiences (eating at favorite restaurants, hobbies like painting), dreams for fun (movies, amusement parks, driving a golf cart), need-based dreams (cup holder for a wheelchair, new shoes) and a dream to do something for someone else (inviting a choir to provide entertainment for everyone, learning sign language to communicate with a deaf friend). 

To learn how to become a dreamweaver for a resident at Henry County’s Homestead Nursing Center, contact the extension office at 502-845-2811 or Goff at 502-845-2861. Moore and Garrison said they hope the program creates interest in other Kentucky counties and shows a viable way of helping seniors feel special and valuable in the community.

Contact: 

Maryellen Garrison, 502-845-2811