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‘Hearts for Hope’ provides encouragement to our staff and residents

Chaplain Mary Bridges wanted to bless the team at Salina Presbyterian Manor, so she turned to the community for help.

Scores of people responded to Mary’s call for “Hearts for Hope” - small enough to slip into a pocket.

Made from wood, glass, yarn, and fabric, each heart is meant to remind Presbyterian Manor employees of the support they have from the wider Salina community.

“The last couple of years have been tough for our team,” Mary said. “I wanted to do something encouraging.”

Her goal was to gather about 150 small hearts, but she ended up with nearly one thousand. The Silver Needles Quilt Guild donated stuffed fabric hearts, and students in the after-school program at First United Methodist Church contributed some, too. One gentleman gave Mary 350 wooden hearts he made with his laser cutter.

“It just shows that people care,” Mary said. “They want to help, but sometimes they don’t know what to do.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, volunteers delivered handmade masks. Not only did the masks serve an important purpose, but it felt good to know that people wanted to help, Mary said.

She hopes the hearts, which she has distributed to each team member, will perform the same function. Carried in a pocket or purse, they can be squeezed whenever someone needs a reminder to stay hopeful.

“The staff seems to like them,” Mary said. “I’ve had several say, ‘I had to use my heart today.’”

The response to the Hearts for Hope project was so overwhelming, it has grown to include more than just staff. When residents are discharged from the PATH (Post-Acute to Home) program, they’ll be sent home with a heart. Mary has given them to members of the grief support group she facilitates, and hearts will be included in welcome bags for new residents.

Mary chose a heart for herself, too. It’s lime-green and crocheted by the daughter of a Presbyterian Manor employee.

“I like to imagine all of those hearts out in the world,” Mary said. “They represent material gifts from one heart to another.”

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