Why Vets, Activity Directors and Seniors Enjoy the Stories for Seniors Program

Our mission is to visit  Senior Care Facilities such as nursing homes, assisted living, personal care  and rehabilitation facilities,  to read heartwarming stories, offer therapeutic recreation programs  and share memories.  
Stories and activities that remind the residents of the good old days….the days when there was little technology, boys played wiffle-ball, hamburgers were 25 cents and a good book was considered a very special gift.
An optional part of the ONCE UPON A TIME STORY PROGRAM, left to the discretion of the Activity Director,  is that each resident receives a lap blanket or a stuffed animal to keep. The distribution of the stuffed animals and lap blankets is not a necessary part of the program, just an extra component/bonus. We have been offering the program for a year and no one has declined the beautiful blankets and/or stuffed animals.
 Isn’t that what we did as kids –  snuggled up with a blanket and stuffed animal on the sofa as our parents read us a story?
For many Seniors and Vets, they have no one to listen to their stories, dreams and hopes. In our discussion of stories frim the past, opportunities arise for them to tell their own stories about their old house in the mountains or their life  in the beloved  South.


Remember fairy tales and fables such Jack and the Beanstalk, The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs, Hansel and Gretel, The Little Engine That Could, The Poky Little Puppy,  and Little Orphan Annie?
Do you remember how you learned about perseverance, doubt, anger, peace, hope, gratitude, honesty, courage, self-discipline, responsibility, volunteering, going to church, and faith?
“Once upon a time…….” – they were magical words!
In children’s stories, we learned lessons:


    • to sit still, not to be “unruly,”,stay in your seat, raise your hand, do not call out
    • self-discipline is learned in the face of struggles and challenges, you need a fighting spirit  
    • the unfortunate consequences of fighting, and “no bickering”
    •  if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again 
    • controlling our temper
    •  it it “ain’t broke, don’t fix it how to control our conversation
    •  what to do when you have “butterflies in your stomach 
    • if you are greedy, you will get nothing at all  
    • stand straight, sit straight, act straight
    • for everything, there is a season 
    • kindness to all creatures, great and small 
    •  never cry “wolf” – a liar will never be believed even when he tells the truth
    •  imaginary fears are the worst
    •  little friends may prove great friends
    •  example is the best teacher
    •  be content with your lot; one can not be first in everything
    •  slow and steady wins the race
    •  there are children in China who have nothing to eat 
    • it’s the thought that counts
    •  it is better to give than to receive
    • be gratedul for what you have 
    • an act of dishonesty is never truly hidden, somebody will always find out 


Remember back in the day, when your parents, grandparents and teachers taught you about the virtues of good habits, faith, loyalty, compassion, courage, work, friendship and other tools for living?


 When we were young, our hearts and minds were trained to do good for others.

So that is why, we are collecting the comfy lap blankets and the little stuffed animals…..to evoke the feelings of security and love that the residents had as young children. And the memories of when they had to walk miles to school, sold produce from a truck, plowed the land and had to drop out of school after 7th grade because of hard times.
It’s amazing the stories that you hear from Seniors and the men who served in the Korean War and WWII.


About Patricia Gallagher:





“Our Villagers loved your program about THE 20 WONDERFUL THINGS.  They said it was a wonderful walk down memory lane.  They felt we should schedule you to come back again for those who missed it!”


Ceil Krajewski
Director of Villager Services
Pine Run Community




And who were the Seniors a few short years ago? What were they doing? And what did they look like? Here are a few interesting photos!


10 thoughts on “Why Vets, Activity Directors and Seniors Enjoy the Stories for Seniors Program

  1. This is from a lady who is “clearing out” for a big move! I am heading to meet her right now for the pick-up. I sure am meeting a lot of nice people these days.

    Hi Patricia
    Barb here from the Craigs list conversation last week.
    I have more than a hundred clean, gently used ‘babies’ ready for you to distribute – just tell me when and where we can meet.
    (I will have to put them all in plastic bags to make them easier to transport)

  2. This is a note that I sent to Samantha, a mother of two school age daughters. She met me today at Panera Bread and donated 5 bags of beautiful stuffed animals. She said she would tell a few friends about the project. That would be great because I find that I am driving too much, in too many directions to pick up the furry critters.

    It is getting pretty costly with the price of gas……thanks, everybody. Maybe there is a Scout troop or a PTA group that would like to help out.

    “Oh my gosh, Samantha. I can truly not thank you enough. They are absolutely magnificent – I looked at them all. I was driving past a place on Germantown Pike and saw some residents sitting outside, looked like they had head injuries.

    A couple of the patients were wearing protective helmets. One person had a pink helmet on but I could not tell by her face if she was a man or a woman. I couldn’t tell by her clothes either. I asked her name and she said Darlene.

    I had three stuffed animals from your bag in my arms. I said, “I have something for you. I showed her three cute ones and asked her which one she wanted.”

    “I want all of them!”

    “Okay, they are all for you. Maybe you have some friends here who would like one.”

    She was beaming. I saw the receptionist come over and lift the big pink one and they were laughing and talking about it.

    Then one of the other patients in a wheelchair said. “That was really nice. She really needed that.”

    You and your daughters have done a wonderful random act of kindness. It was so nice meeting you today. I can’t believe that two little girls could have so many beautiful critters. They are lucky to have a beautiful mom like you – inside and out.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

  3. From a man who liked the questions that I was asking the folks about the past. They love to reminisce. I asked people to tell me about the times that they moved in their life.

    John said, “When my family moved from 6th Street, my sister and I flooded the car with tears. I was nine and she was eleven. We had all of our friends on that block. They were so many kids. We played Kickball and traded baseball cards. Oh they were the days! My mother died that year and we moved with my father to another area of Philadelphia. Two bad things happened in one year.”

  4. From Wanda, one of the younger people in the facility. Not everybody is elderly. I think she is about 50 years old.


    I like the record albums that you showed us today. I really liked Elvis Presley. I remember trying to record his songs when he was on television. I don’t mean with a VCR. I was trying to record just his voice with one of those big clunky reel to reel tape recorders. I remember telling my sister and brother to “shut up” because I didn’t want to get their voices on the tape recording. I got in trouble for telling them to shut up. My mother told me that was no way to talk to my siblings.

  5. Mrs. Gallagher,

    I told my friends I got a new cat.

    They said, “You got a what?”

    I said, “A black and white cat. It is black and white like an Oreo. I named him “Cookie.”

    Then I laughed and told them it was a stuffed animal cat!

    Thank you very much for bringing the stuffed animals to our place.

  6. I just received this email tonight. So nice of this Den Mother to contact me.

    I am involved with a Cub Scout Pack. We had planned on collecting
    toys in December for Toys For Tots but then I came across your ad on Craigslist and read the website. We wanted to know if we could collect “gently used” stuffed animals at our December pack meeting and donate them to your cause.

    My feeling was that the Scouts are asked to donate toys at school and at church and this is something a little different. Please let me know so we can announce it at our November meeting next week. Thanks!

  7. Dear Friends,

    I went to church this morning. It was pretty nippy at 8am, felt like a winter morning, although it is only November 9th. Brad is a man in his 50’s, who had a tragic motorcycle accident when he was in his 20’s. He lost his leg and uses a motorized wheelchair. He lives in a care facility. He goes to Mass every morning, rain or shine.

    After Mass, he was waiting for the handicapped transit van to pick him up to take him back to his facility. I asked him, “Brad, how do you do this every morning? What time do you get up? Who gets you all ready in the morning? You go to so much trouble to come here every day.”

    “It’s better than laying in bed all day.”

    “Do you have any family in this area?”

    “No, they live three hours away. My father isn’t in good health and he has to take care of my mother. She has Alzheimers. I called my father at 5 am today. I have to stop doing that. He said that is too early to call but I am awake then. I wish I could get moved up closer to them. I have a son in California but I don’t know him very well. I am going to try to get a computer and find him on Facebook.”

    I waited about 10 minutes with him but I was freezing cold. I told him I had to go. He was cold, too. He had a big orange Parka on. I flipped up the hood on to his head. I felt bad leaving him there waiting by himself.

    I went over to my car. I had some of the donated afghans and blankets in the back seat because I was going to a nursing home in the afternoon. I grabbed one that looked a little masculine. The yarns were orange, brown, red and yellow. Great Fall colors. They went well with his jacket.

    “Hey Brad, this will keep you warm. I laid it on his lap, covering the one leg and his lap.

    He looked shocked. “I can’t take your blanket. No, you need it. It belongs to you. I am okay. I am not cold.”

    How could I explain to him where the blankets came from and why this one was meant exactly for him. It really was meant for him. It was cold. He was cold. And the blanket spelled warmth, caring and love…from someone in Hannelore’s Circle of Miracles spirituality group.

    I am sure there is a lot of pain searing through his body and his heart. Losing a leg, losing all of the dreams for your life. It ended his construction career. Left a little boy in California.

    But some very kind person donated this heavy wool blanket and made a difference to a man who has weathered storms that none of us would want to navigate.

    Thank you!

  8. A man at a retirement facility, age 92, showed us a picture of himself in his Army uniform. It was Tuesday, two days before Veterans Day.

    Sir, how old were you in that picture>

    I was 28.

    Where did you serve?

    I was in the Battle of the Bulge and other battlefields in Europe. I knew Patton. December, 1944. There sure was no Peace on Earth then. There was a war in the Pacific and in Europe.

  9. Comment from a man who lives in a retirement community in Southampton, PA.

    It takes some gettin’ used to living here.

    Are you from this area originally?

    Yes, right down the street.

    My daughter wanted me to move here. I wanted to stay in my old neighborhood, in my own home. But then you realize that most of your old neighbors “have passed on” and you are all by yourself there. I have been here five years. It has been good here but in the beginning, it was tough. I am 97. Did you see my picture of when I was in the Army? Yeah, my sister put it here on the table. And that other picture is my brother-in-law.

    These brave men were in battles, in dangers we will never know. Happy Veterans Day to all who have served our country.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s