Those are two requests that have been granted recently at Ridgeview Health Services through Second Wind Dreams, an international nonprofit founded in 1997.
Ridgeview became a program partner in 2005. Past wishes fulfilled for residents included getting baptized, modeling in New York City during Fashion Week, riding around town in a Corvette and earning a high school diploma.
After a four-year hiatus, Ridgeview president Joette Kelley-Brown activated the program again in December.
“It’s a morale builder for not only our staff but for the residents. When we announce someone is getting a Second Wind Dream, everybody is excited for that person,” she said.
Sarah Christen Ivey has signed on as the local coordinator of Second Wind Dreams.
She learned quickly that not all dreams are based in happy memories. One of the first residents she approached became overwhelmed by the casual conversation and broke down in unexpected, uncontrollable sobs.
However, her next interviewee was as feisty as they come.
“They need somebody to bounce those emotions off of and it brings up things, but it’s a joy to do it,” Ivey said.
Rex Cater was the recipient of the first dream fulfilled under the revamped program.
Cater came to the facility as a result of a work-related accident. Two of his favorite things are puzzles and University of Alabama football.
When Ivey learned that Cater was saving money to buy frames for his Crimson Tide puzzles, she approached a local business, Jasper Frame Shoppe, about helping with the project. The owners supplied not only the materials but the labor to frame the puzzles as well.
In March, the Bull Pen Steakhouse in Oakman welcomed Ridgeview resident Linda Herron for a steak dinner.
One month later, Margaret Webb was placed on hospice care and started asking every person on staff for a coconut cake.
Ladybug’s Bakery donated the cake for free. When Ivey entered the lobby with it, employees lined up to follow her to Webb’s room.
“They said, ‘We’re going with you. We want to see her.’ I felt like the Pied Piper,” Ivey said.
The photos Ivey posted on Facebook of Webb enjoying her cake garnered more attention than anyone expected — 1,414 likes and 81 comments in 48 hours.
“Total, we ended up reaching 35,000 people,” Ivey said.
More recently, resident Shirley Bonds went on a shopping spree to buy clothing and other basics she did not have when she arrived at Ridgeview. Bonds was also treated to her own pizza at Johnny Brusco’s.
Bonds is also active in the raised bed gardens that were recently installed at the facility.
As resident Grover Williams dug in the dirt one day, he began reminiscing about the garden beds he maintained after losing both his wife and his son.
Every time he passes Ivey in the halls at Ridgeview, he gives her an update on “our vegetables.”
Ivey said her hope is that the program can soon begin to focus on collective dreams such as the garden that will benefit multiple residents and continue beyond the initial fulfillment.
Brown and Ivey have both been inspired by a YouTube video of an unresponsive nursing home resident who lights up when hearing his favorite music playing through a pair of headphones.
Ideas for future projects include acquiring Kindles and iPods to distribute to residents as well as updating the Ridgeview library.