Associates and residents at Life Care Center of Haltom in Fort Worth, Texas, recently made 20 dresses for girls in Haiti.
Receptionist Priscilla Kemppainen went on a church mission trip to Port au Prince and a small mountain village near Morne A Cabrit, from Sept. 30 – Oct. 6, 2017. Before her trip, she met with Andria Spruiell, occupational therapist assistant, to determine the need for donations, especially clothing, and developed a plan for residents to get involved.
Susie Cooley, physical therapist assistant, developed a pattern and sewed the dresses in preparation for the residents to complete the finishing details. Once assembled, she brought in the basic dresses for residents to embellish by adding ribbons.
Spruiell, together with Zahira Khimji, occupational therapist, worked with residents Vivian Martin and Marie Haught on finishing the dresses, incorporating the activity into their therapy. They were able to use the tasks (such as measuring and lacing the ribbon for the dresses and applying fray check to the ribbon ends) to work on skills like fine and gross motor movements, problem solving and sequencing.
“The patients involved really understood the mission of the task and were very dedicated and focused to ensure each dress was completed with perfect precision,” said Spruiell.
“It made me feel good to make those little girls happy,” said Martin.
“I remember making dresses like these for my daughter,” added Haught, who hand selected and color matched the ribbon to each dress. “They are just precious.”
Cassie Granger, director of rehab, shared, “Watching this project come to fruition from just a quick conversation to an actual gift for these children was amazing. Seeing the residents who are struggling with their own health and daily needs put their personal needs aside to focus on the needs of the children in Haiti was such a gracious gift to witness.”
Kemppainen took the dresses with her to Haiti, where they were delivered to an elementary school an hour and a half up a mountain. The children walk miles to go to school and are fed their only meal for the day. The teachers aren’t paid and are providing an education for the students out of the kindness of their hearts.
The children were excited to have the dresses and even just to have people play with them. They sang the missionaries a song as they walked in the door.
“The trip was awesome, and it was such a blessing to have our residents and staff here be a blessing to the children there,” said Kemppainen. “Seeing a child smile and laugh when holding an item someone made for them with their own hands makes it all worth it.”
“The staff and patients came together to witness God’s work through able hands in order to help the less fortunate,” said Granger. “What a testimony to our Life Care mission!”