Humble Hands, Warm Hearts

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(Pictured L to R: Jamie Dupell, Assistant Manager of ADH, Genevieve Floyd, Sharon Peters, William Bragdon, Karen Howard, AM of Parent Education)

CHICOPEE, MA – On the last Monday in January, a group of participants from CHD’s Adult Day Health program in Chicopee will venture to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield to help ensure that precious, tiny heads stay snug and warm. The adults, who all contribute their time and talent to a community project called Humble Hands, will deliver more than 100 bright red hats that they knit for the newborns at the hospital. (The hats are red to coincide with cardiac health month.)

Participants in CHD’s Adult Day Health program include adults with dementia, developmental disabilities, mental illness, strokes, cardiac issues, acquired brain injuries and blindness. Participants range in age range from 30 to 93 years. Currently 68 adults are enrolled in the Chicopee program, with 42 to 48 participating daily.  The population is diverse in age, disability and culture, yet each day forms an active and interconnected community.

“Chicopee Adult Day Health strives to provide this diverse community with solid medical and social services,” said Julianne R. Moreno, Program Manager. “More importantly, we endeavor to provide a culture of independence and self-worth. It is our belief that everyone needs a purpose and has the desire to help others, even if living with limited means and limited abilities.”

According to Moreno, Humble Hands encompasses all the community projects tackled by the Adult Day Health participants throughout the year. Projects are designed to serve a range of populations within the community. An example of a Humble Hands activity is looming, which is a method of knitting without needles.

“Many participants who used to sew, crotchet, or knit before their stroke find it difficult to pick up their hobby again, due to the loss of motor skills in their hands,” Moreno explained. “Looming provides a way for those folks to be successful, and to bring back the skill, hobby and joy that was lost.”

The looming activity typically comprises ten to fifteen Adult Day Health participants, both men and women. Hats are loomed weekly and donated to family support programs such as Not Bread Alone, Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen, homeless shelters throughout the area, and to newborns at Baystate Medical Center.

Chicopee Adult Day Health also collects soda can tabs. “Twice a year, gallons of collected soda can tabs are brought to Shriner’s Hospital,” said Moreno. “The staff there welcomes our folks, greets them and provides a tour. They even take the time to explain how their donations of can tabs make a difference for the children of Shriner’s. Two of our participants received services from Shriners as youth, so they especially enjoy the opportunity to give back.”

The men who reside at Holyoke Soldier’s Home have “adopted” the participants of Chicopee Adult Day Health.  “During Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, and July 4th celebrations, we have soldiers visit our program,” said Moreno. “We enjoy their visits, especially their stories. For Thanksgiving and Christmas, our participants make cards and thank-you letters for each soldier. Last year they made over 200 cards for the veterans. On Valentine’s Day the participants deliver cards and candy. We enjoy the interactions with our friends on the hill.”

Adult Day Health participants also get behind food drives, Toys for Tots and other activities throughout the year. Each participant contributes in some fashion to each project, whether donating time, effort, artistic ability, or the gathering of donations.

“Knowing that they’re warming the heads of little babies warms the hearts of the kind and generous adults who join us in Chicopee,” said Kimberley A. Lee, VP Office of Advancement for CHD. “It’s gratifying to see how much the folks at Adult Day Health care about their community, from just born babies to the elderly. And with the support of our staff there, they can spread their good deeds and goodwill all year round. They’re living proof that physical, intellectual or socioeconomic challenges are no barrier to meaningful participation for a better community.”

Founded in 1972, Center for Human Development (CHD) is a nonprofit, CARF-accredited organization providing a broad range of high quality, community-oriented human services to 17,000 children, adolescents, adults, and families each year. The organization is dedicated to promoting, enhancing and protecting the dignity and welfare of people in need.

CHD Adult Day Health programs serve adults who need supervision and health services during the daytime. Adult Day Health programs include nursing care, therapies, personal care assistance, social and recreational activities, meals, and other services in a community group setting. Adult Day Health programs are for adults who return to their homes and caregivers at the end of the day.

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