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Adopt A Grandparent program provides holiday spirit


For Nina Gilliland, the gift of giving isn’t what it may seem.

She was one recipient of the Adopt a Grandparent program at Ranchwood Nursing Center this year. In her first year at the nursing center, she’s gotten the chance to be part of the program but doesn’t benefit the way most would think.

Erin Ferrell, a sponsor of Adopt a Grandparent, drew Gilliland’s name to be her sponsor. The sponsors buy personalized gifts for their recipients to brighten up the holiday season.

Gilliland received a blanket, a crossword puzzle book, an adult coloring book, some lotions, as well as other personal care items.

It wasn’t the gifts Gilliland enjoyed.

Though she finds the gifts useful, she enjoyed the looks on the faces of Ferrell and her daughter as she opened the presents.

“It was fun for me because I know they got a joy from it,” Gilliland said. “There’s just something about giving, that you can tell they just got good out of it.”

Adopt A Grandparent was designed to assist nursing center residents during the holiday season with conversation and gifts during a time of year when they appreciate the company. Most recipients, however, don’t need the program.

“My son comes three or four times a week,” resident Tommy Homan said. “It doesn’t make a difference what hour he comes in.”

Gilliland has three children, two work in the Bethany school system and a daughter leading a busy life. Many residents have family who visit several times a week.

If the Ferrell’s hadn’t visited Gilliland, she would still have a Christmas. The feeling of knowing she could help someone give back in the holiday season is what she cared about most.

“Especially if a person was needy, and I can’t say I was needy,” she said. “Maybe I was needy to know there was somebody that had my name and knowing they enjoyed shopping for me. As far as me being needy, I don’t think there are too many people that have lost too many meals.”

Whether they have family to visit, residents enjoy the time Adopt A Grandparent volunteers give.

“It’s a nice program they put on,” Homan said. “They stand behind you 100 percent. It’s always nice when they come.”

Nina Gilliland sits atop her bed in her rooms at Ranchwood Nursing Center. Gilliland was a recipient of the Adopt A Grandparent program this season. Photo/Hayden Tucker

Giving back to the community

Walking into the Samaritan Emergency Medical Services facility, several EMT’s are found sitting around waiting for their next call. They don’t want that to be all they’re known for.

In the second year at their Yukon location, the people of Samaritan have found ways to be active in the community. Volunteering for Adopt a Grandparent was one of their first attempts at reaching out to the people of Yukon.

“We were fairly new to the Yukon area (in 2017) and I saw it on Facebook and we thought, ‘we run a lot of calls out at Ranchwood,’” Clinical Coordinator Chrissy McDaniel said. “We respond out there when they call 911 for their residents, they were doing this Adopt a Grandparent program so we thought we would help out because we always go out there when they’re having a problem or emergency.”

More often than not are people familiar with emergency medical technicians in a tension-packed moment but McDaniel says they’re trying to buck the trend.

“We don’t always see people on their best day, she said. We try to find ways that we can do more community things where people see us not just to pick them up and take them to the hospital. Just show them we’re part of the community also.”

Ranchwood isn’t the only place they hope to change their perception.

Samaritan hopes they can make more people comfortable when they’re out and about.

“When you go to Walmart after you’ve left work and you have to get groceries, people see you and they ask, ‘what’s going on?’ and you say, ‘well I live here too, I have to get some milk,’ McDaniel said with a chuckle. “I think it just kind of humanizes us a little bit because we’re not just the ambulance robots. We’re not intimidating, we’re human too and it just shows we do have a real passion for helping the community because we’re also a part of the community.”

For another Samaritan employee, giving back to the community runs deep.

Daniel King’s family has been in Yukon since the 1960’s and programs like Adopt A Grandparent give him, as well as other businesses in Yukon, a chance to show their appreciation.

“It’s very important for businesses to be involved in the community because the community is the reason they’re in business,” King said. “To complete the circle of taking care of the community will ensure the community takes care of them.”

Giving back is in the nature of the profession.

“Most people that get involved in EMS do it specifically because they have a heart for people,” King said. “We see people in their time of need, time of emergency. We do that because that’s part of our personality and part of our characteristics.”

Volunteering for Adopt a Grandparent can tug on the heart strings of many, especially Samartian. The Ranchwood resident they sponsored this year wasn’t from the Oklahoma City area, a scenario all too common in nursing centers.

Samaritan hopes they can be a bright spot for someone in their time of need during the holiday season.

“Due to room shortages they could be away from a family member. We know that, when the holidays come around, it’s easy for people to miss their family,” said King. “For some of these residents just to talk to, just to see that there’s someone that’s interested in who they are, where they came from, what their story is, I think can be just as beneficial as some of the medicines we give.”

Daniel King and Chrissy McDaniel of Samaritan EMS pose in front of a Christmas tree at Ranchwood Nursing Center’s Christmas party. Samaritan was one of several sponsors for the Adopt A Grandparent program. Photo/Courtesy


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