14 December 2017

Where’s Red? It’s The Little Things

By: Jon Katz

It's The Little Things

One of the many things I love about my volunteer work with Red at the Mansion is what I learn, and how it changes me. It's the little things that really matter – your letters and gifts and messages, the clothes and wool hats and scarves, the soap and body wash and stuffed animals.

Today, I delivered two bras to a woman at the Mansion who needed them. I have never bought a bra before, and didn't quite know how to do it or what to order. There was some trial and error, my first two orders were off, and didn't work.

Finally, I got it right. Now, if I ever need to, I will know how to size a bra.

Tonight a Mansion staffer came to me and told me that a resident felt cold in the morning. It wasn't the heat, it is very warm there, it was her own  sensitivity, and she always feels she is cold, even in mid-summer.

Some mornings she feels she is so cold she won't get up and has an accident in the bed. The staff has been trying to help her, she says if she had a warm bathrobe, then she would get up and get to the bathroom herself.

I ordered one tonight, it will be here in a day or so. It is purple and fuzzy.

Tomorrow, the horse-drawn sleight is coming, and 18 Mansion residents have signed up for a ride. It is going to be cold, and perhaps that is why I had this impulse to buy a bunch of wool hats and scarves and sweaters.

The ride kicks off at 1 p.m., and I'll be there, and the staff is making sure everyone is bundled up and has some hot chocolate to drink. The ride costs $300 and lasts several hours, the sleigh has wheels on it for a smooth ride, and the ride will go through parts of the town.

This kind of outing is so important to the residents, they love getting out and interacting with the world. It is what they most need, a sense of belong to a community.

Today, a box of three beautiful dolls arrived, I will bring them to the Mansion tomorrow. I talked with the aides about it, and we know exactly who to bring them to. I'll take a photo in the morning.

Tomorrow, I'm getting a list of clothes a new residents needs, she has no clothes other than the ones she was wearing.

It's the small things that really matter, I think. Tonight at the Mansion, I was reminded of that once again. Red has a big crowd to work, and he got to most of them. Several times I couldn't find him in the crowd, when I looked up, he was usually watching me, his head popping up like Waldo.

A great night, and an exciting day tomorrow.

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Bob’s Christmas

By: Jon Katz

Bob's Christmas

This is a difficult Christmas for Bob. He came to the Mansion several months ago to be with his wife Shirley, who was ill. Shirley, a great lover of dogs, died shortly after they moved in, and now, Bob is sick.

He just came back to the Mansion from a rehab facility, and he fought hard every day to get back to the Mansion, where he wishes to spend the rest of his life.  I was him sitting on the coach by himself, it was the coach he often sat on with Shirley.

He is uncomplaining and never expresses regret or self-pity, but you can see the sadness in his eyes.

I sat with him a bit, but he had trouble hearing me. DarLisa, a Mansion aide, saw he was alone and sat with him, the two of them laughed and hugged and sang some Christmas songs together.

DarLisa has an eye for need like this, as do the aides who work at the Mansion. I talk easily with Bob, we have a lovely relationship, but I doubt I could get him to laugh and smile like DarLisa did. Christmas brings out the better angels in us, and DarLisa is one of them.

There are some people in the world who just care for others.

You can write Bob c/o The Mansion, 11 S. Union Avenue, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.

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Merry Christmas To The Mansion Staff

By: Jon Katz

The Mansion Staff

There are all kinds of heroes in the world, and many ways to be a hero. You don't have to charge into enemy gunfire to be a hero, you can work at the Mansion, day in and day out, make little money, never be rich or famous, clean up accidents, get people to take their medications, listen to their woes and fears, love them every day, even when they make it so difficult at times.

It takes a special kind of person to work at the Mansion, and I have come to love and admire the people who work there., they have the biggest hearts and are passionate for what they do.

Caring for people is  calling for them, and the more I get to know them, the more admiration I have for them. Every Christmas, they save up to buy presidents for the residents, and nothing makes them happier than to see the residents happy and comfortable.

They work long hours for little pay, every one of them loves what they do. I hate to think of a world without them, they personify the spirit of Christmas.

Charles Dickens wrote that he will honor Christmas in his heart, and try to keep it all of the year. This is what the staff does, they honor Christmas in their hearts ad keep it all of the years. I don't have to wait for Christmas to feel that spirit, I see it all the time, whenever I set foot in the Mansion.

They do so much work that most people would flee from or avoid, and they flee from nothing, they face every bit of trouble and challenge That is heroic to me, and the residents, for all of their troubles, know it and love them for it.

Merry Christmas people, it is an honor and a pleasure to know you and work with you.

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Christmas Party, The Mansion

By: Jon Katz

The Mansion

There was a full house at the Mansion when Santa arrived. He read the"Christmas Story," passed out gifts, sang some songs, talked to the children who came with the families or with the staff.

The Christmas spirit was deep in the Great Room. I thought of Steve Maraboli's idea: "

Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you."

That was the feeling in the Great Room. Your gifts, stocking stuffers, letters, photos, crafts were everywhere. So many people thanked me for them. Thanks for reminding us what Christmas is all about.

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Video: Merry Christmas At The Mansion. Meet The Residents

By: Jon Katz

The Mansion had a warm and crowded and loving Christmas celebration tonight, it was a great privilege to be there. I took some different videos and photos, but first, I wanted you, the people who have been so supportive, to meet some of them as I wished each one a Merry Christmas.

Everyone had a bag of gifts, tonight's gifts were from the staff, your gifts will be opened closer to Christmas. Tonight, the families were invited, and there was a large and lively crowd. Santa came and passed out presents, there was a Christmas sing-a-long, some dancing, lots of good, egg not and cider.

It was great to be there, I want to share some moments with you, I feel many of you were there with me.

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