Favors of love
This Christmas Eve, as
she has done for roughly the past 17 years, Gayle Fister will go door to
door at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital, delivering more than 100
dinner tray favors to patients as a way of wishing them a merry Christmas.
No one likes to spend the
holidays in the hospital. But for those who must, Fister's holiday mementos
bring a spot of joy.
"When they get their tray
favors, their eyes just light up," said Fister, 64, who began volunteering
at Cardinal Hill more than 20 years ago, after her father, aunt and sister
all received successful treatment there following strokes. The patients "are
just so eager to get something (for the holiday). Most of them end up with
tears in their eyes."
This year, Fister will
hand out a small ornament with Santa on a sleigh along with a small card
she's made for every patient.
But her tray favor
program isn't just for Christmastime. Working with the Cardinal Hill
Auxiliary and its gift shop, which purchases the favors, Fister also
distributes favors at Halloween, Valentine's Day and the Fourth of July.
This past Halloween,
Fister passed out hand-size squeeze balls in the shape of pumpkins, which
patients could use during therapy.
Fister, a longtime member
of the auxiliary, coordinates the group's bake sales. She also volunteers at
her church, Cathedral of Christ the King.
"Cardinal Hill was
started 57 years ago by volunteers, so it's fitting that Gayle demonstrates
the caring philosophy that has continued in this hospital since its
inception," said JoAnne Burch Burris, volunteer coordinator at Cardinal
Hill. "Like all the members of our auxiliary, she is very dedicated to our
hospital, and we are forever grateful for her service to our clients."
Fister's visits with the
patients are by necessity brief, but nonetheless meaningful.
"With the privacy laws,
we cannot ask patients any personal questions about their illnesses," Fister
said. "But I can just go in and say, 'Happy Holidays.' And we can encourage
them, and say, 'Oh, you're doing great today.'"
Photo by Joseph Rey Au , article by Robin
Roenker, published Dec. 12, 2007 at lexington.com and Lexington