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Sunday, April 26, 2020

Art From The Heart: Silver Linings in COVID-19 Times

Capri with her drawing of her self portrait and friend Esteban

By Moira Grainger

Inevitably, the toll of spending week after week in close quarters during the COVID-19 quarantine has tested event the best of us. Despite these challenging times, local families have found inspirational ways to touch the lives of others in uniquely special ways. And sometimes, the most profound gifts of caring come from the hearts of kids.  Here is a great example shared by local mom Kelly Klocke Larbes.

"My daughter Capri and I often take walks near the Madeira Village Nursing Home on Kenwood Road and occasionally stop in for visits. Over time, she has developed a beautiful friendship with an elderly resident named Esteban.  Recently, when the nursing home could no longer accept visitors, we were able to visit Esteban outside his window, and this is where our project began.

Capri, who is five, and I decided to create over 90 drawings, one for each resident of the nursing home. Our hope was that these drawings brought a little moment of joy while we couldn't visit inside. We're sharing our story in hope that other families will also reach out to a Nursing Home near them with letters, cards, drawings or phone calls.

Capri Larbes with her treasure trove of heart-felt messages

The idea started during a calm moment in the emotional rollercoaster I've been feeling since the pandemic began. Sometimes the problem seems too big, sad and overwhelming to me. Those who were already vulnerable in our community are suffering more, such as the economically disadvantaged, homeless, disabled and elderly. Nursing homes aren't accepting visitors and have closed gathering places. The measures are important safeguards for elderly but the loneliness, isolation and confusion could also have devastating effects on their health.

I realized it's more helpful for me to choose acceptance and impact what is in my control. I suggested to Capri we make a drawing for our friend Esteban. It was Capri's idea to draw a picture for everyone -- as Capri said, "for Esteban and all his friends."

We got to work. Capri created over 50 unique drawings, and I contributed lots of flowers and hearts to ensure we had one for everyone when we delivered them that Monday.

Art from the heart

My favorite drawing is of Capri and Esteban together. Capri and I first met Esteban a few years ago out on a walk. He sat by the sidewalk in his wheelchair, decorated with fluorescent tape and a flag, cheerfully waving and greeting people passing by. We saw him frequently on our stroller runs. We'd stop to chat in Spanish, Capri would share her favorite rocks, and we became fast friends. Recently, we had a special envelope with Esteban's drawing, a lucky rock and a letter. We visited him from outside his window, and Capri sang a favorite school song, "Spring is Coming." It was a little spot of light and joy for all.

Concluded Kelly, "Please consider sending drawings or letters to the elderly or disabled in nursing homes during this time. The letters can be mailed or dropped off if you pass a group home while out on a walk. For example, at Madeira Village Nursing Home you can leave letters outside the main door (c/o Felicia, Activities Coordinator).  Then, call the front desk and the receptionist will come out to get them.  Other nearby facilities include the Madeira Health Care Center on Camargo Road.

Letters and notes for every nursing home resident, filled with caring!

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