Renaissance Nursing and Rehab Residents Make Pillows for ALS

When staff at Renaissance Nursing and Rehab in West Philadelphia learned that a member of Nationwide Healthcare Service’s corporate team had been diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), they were heartbroken. But they decided to turn their pain into action. They chose to dedicate a resident project to raise money for the fight against the disease. Residents loved the idea and enthusiastically jumped in.

“As a facility in the Nationwide family, we wanted to make a gesture to show our support,” said Timothy McCracken, Renaissance’s Director of Recreation Services.

The project – making and selling heart- and rose-shaped pillows for Valentine’s Day – was a total success. The pillows sold out, raising $500 for Project ALS.

Activities aide Shirley Madden led the project. Not only is she naturally handy with a sewing machine, but she also has a talent as an activities professional. She can break down a task into smaller parts where people with different physical limitations such as hemiparesis (weakness of one side of the body following a stroke) can participate.

“The activity brings everything and everyone together,” McCracken said. “Shirley organizes an assembly line of residents that group themselves under the heading of the sewing club. They are interested and aware of the fact that they’re participating in a fundraiser, which makes their tasks of cutting the patterns and stuffing the pillows that much more meaningful.”

Renaissance resident Triphena Stevenson said she found the project fulfilling. “Helping warms my heart. There has always been someone there to help me, so why wouldn’t I help others if I am able,” she said.

Florence Choy, another resident, shared similar feelings. “I like the sentiment of the project, being able to participate with a purpose of helping someone,” she said.

Activities at Renaissance are designed to fulfill a resident’s need for status and role fulfillment. So the Renaissance activities team creates experiences and events in which residents can continue to be positive contributors in their community and the world around them.

Every year residents hold a dance-a-thon to raise money for a homeless shelter. They also hold a drive to collect school supplies for the same homeless shelter.

Project ALS is the most recent beneficiary of the residents’ efforts, but the staff and residents will continue to look for ways to help wherever they can.