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Elmcroft, Second Wind Dreams team up to grant seniors’ wishes

Leigh Ann Laube • Jun 22, 2013 at 5:45 PM

When Reba Horton was told she had been granted a dream by Elmcroft of Kingsport and the Second Wind Dreams organization, she knew exactly what she wanted to do.

On June 3, Horton, a resident of Elmcroft, and three Elmcroft staff members loaded up for a trip to Gatlinburg to tour the Christ In The Smokies Museum & Gardens, located on the former Christus Gardens property. Horton — along with D Simerly, Cynthia Johnson and Amber Spivey — walked through a Biblical world of 2,000 years ago, with life-size, life-like representations of important scenes from the life of Christ.

They visited the Christ in the Smokies gift shop, lunched at Denny’s restaurant and stopped at Hammer’s Department Store in Sevierville for a little shopping.

Horton and her late husband traveled often and had visited Christus Gardens years ago.

“I hadn’t been there in a long time and I was interested to see what they had done. It’s all different now,” she said.

Horton was told a couple of months ago that she was being granted a dream. “I definitely wanted to do this. I had a wonderful time,” she said.

Second Wind Dreams was formed in 1997. Its name comes from a novel of the same name by P.K. Beville, a geriatric specialist who wrote about the wonderful, colorful and sometimes hysterical people who live and work in nursing homes. The SWD mission is simple — to change the perception of aging through the fulfillment of dreams and the offering of innovative educational opportunities to caregivers and communities.

Elmcroft Senior Living Communities partnered with the organization and, in the last eight years, Elmcroft of Kingsport has fulfilled dreams for around 100 of its residents.

“The goal is for our team, our dream teams, to select residents we know well or want to get to know better. We’ll talk to their families to see what kind of dream they would like. We’ll also talk to the resident,” said Carla Dunn, executive director of Elmcroft of Kingsport.

Elmcroft staff has been divided into six teams. They have taken a retired teacher back to the classroom to teach, hosted a high tea party for a hospice resident, and arranged a day trip to the beach for a resident to put her toes in the sand.

Jerry Rhymer’s dream was a trip to Legion Field in Gate City, Va., to watch the Gate City Blue Devils football team in a playoff game in 2011. Rhymer is a former three-sport athlete at Virginia High School.

“I really enjoyed that. It was fantastic. It was kind of a windy, cool day over there. I got some good hot chocolate,” he said.

Financial support for the dreams comes from private donations and the Elmcroft activities fund, Dunn said. Elmcroft staff also donate their time and money.

“We work with families and keep it in budget,” she said. “We need to realistically think about budgeting and their health and those types of things.”

Marcella Fairchild, who lives in Heartland Village, Elmcroft’s secure memory care unit, spent a day in Johnson City, eating lunch with Heartland Village Team Leader Bambi Fuller, then watching “Oz the Great and Powerful.”

“It just seemed appropriate to do,” Fairchild said.

Retired beautician Lillian Ratliff shared her day of pampering with her granddaughter Rebecca DeBord, 5-year-old great-granddaughter Makenna DeBord and staff member Shirley Tipton.

After a manicure at the Kingsport Town Center, Ratliff and the others had lunch at Riverfront Seafood Co. along the Holston River, near where she was born and raised.

The dreams are simple requests that bring a lot of pleasure to the recipients, Dunn said.

“I think they remember the simple things,” she said.

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