This story is part of a bi-weekly series that celebrates people who are reaching across a divide to "build bridges" with those different from themselves. The Sparkt Bridges series is made possible with the support of UPMC.
Sparkt fans will remember when we first told you about Ruby Kate Chitsey. She's the girl who started an amazing outreach to people in nursing homes in her hometown of Harrison, Arkansas by giving them simple things they wished for but couldn't afford..
"Three Wishes for Ruby's Residents" was starting to get national attention when we first did our story in April: Girl Grants Wishes to Nursing Home Residents
Now her idea has gone so viral she's been invited to travel around the country to speak about it. When she came to Pittsburgh to be the keynote speaker at a statewide conference of nursing home ombudsmen (fancy word for advocates), we had to go and meet her. Her words and her sunny, can-do attitude taught us a lesson about caring, just like she did a room full of adults who are experts on how to care for people in nursing homes.
Ruby's and her mom Amanda's goals for Three Wishes are growing. They're starting chapters in other towns and states. With 15 thousand long term care centers caring for 1.5 million residents in the U.S., the need is great, and growing. "Our biggest dream is to see Three Wishes chapters in every state and our volunteers helping all of those residents in five years," said Amanda. "I don’t want this to be a viral moment."
"Our goal has always been to help every resident in need. I think we can do it." Amanda Chitsey
Meantime, Ruby is getting a little reward for all her wish-granting. When a Three Wishes supporter in Louisiana asked Ruby what were her three wishes, Ruby said going to an Ariana Grande concert was one of them. Guess what? Thanks to that supporter, she's going to a concert this summer!
If Ruby has inspired you as much as she's inspired us, there are many ways you can get involved:
- Find out how to start a Three Wishes chapter where you live by clicking here.
- Support the organization with your donations by going to their GoFundMe page - click here.
- Sponsor a Three Wishes resident by going to their website and clicking on How to Help.
- Keep up with Ruby and her friends' day-to-day goings on at the organization's Facebook page - click here.
Or, just visit a nursing home in your area and see how you can help even one resident live a happier life by giving a little of your time and granting three simple wishes!
The Sparkt Bridges Project is produced
with the generous support of UPMC.
Life Changing Medicine.