BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Seniors living in convalescent homes haven’t been able to have friends or family visit in nearly ten months because of the pandemic. One Bakersfield woman is doing everything she can to still bring them some joy.
"We started this campaign to boost morale and spread joy and kindness," said Annette Eggleston.
A campaign called "Adopt A Grandparent."
Annette and her two children are using her business, Nette’s Creative Balloons N’ More, to send “loving balloon buddies” to the elderly in Kern County. She said the idea originally came from a fellow balloon artist in North Carolina.
“She reached out to us balloon artists all over the states and asked us, 'Hey, let’s get this going. Let’s spread joy,'" said Annette.
The pandemic has limited social interaction for convalescent home residents. Annette’s daughter, Christina, said she hopes these balloon buddies help them feel less alone.
"We just kind of want to bring a smile, bring some joy, bring some cheer into their life. To let them know they’re not forgotten," said Christina.
Being a nurse herself, Annette said she also feels for the senior home staff members. She delivered balloon buddies to the Orchard Post Acute nursing home in central Bakersfield.
“I know the struggle as a nurse and the things that we deal with inside just trying to do our jobs," said Annette.
She said it’s hard to cheer up patients from behind a mask
“Any patient [that] has to look at us with this mask on our face. They don't see our smiles, but they can see the buddy smile," said Annette.
Activity Director Tagafo’fu Aldan was touched by the outreach.
"We’re hoping again that one day we’ll open back up, but I think in between here, these services and these volunteers, these wonderful volunteers of ours like this right here, is marvelous," he said.
Activity Aid Matthew Sanchez said this campaign can inspire the residents.
"To know that there are other people that care, and that they can have hope," said Matthew.
"We just know that loneliness is a real thing and we definitely just want to reach out our hearts and our services as much as we can," said Christina.
Annette’s goal is to give a balloon buddy to every resident in every Kern County convalescent home. It costs $25 to send a senior a balloon buddy.
Annette said she’ll also do home deliveries
If you’d like to adopt a grandparent, visit Annette's website here.
If you know someone who should be featured in Kern’s Kindness email us your idea at firstname.lastname@example.org.