Sometimes, all is takes to feel better is a little horse sense.
That was the case in late May when Lee Tisor, an RSVP volunteer, brought his horse, Blue, to visit nursing home residents at St. Luke’s Home in Dickinson.
Like all people residing in nursing homes these days, St. Luke’s residents have experienced a lonely spring after coronavirus concerns locked down those facilities to outside visitors.
But before long, the gentle, 10-year-old Palomino was working that particular brand of magic that only pets and four-legged friends can provide. Residents walked or wheeled outside on a 74-degree, blue-sky day to pet Blue’s velvety nose. One senior even fed her grass. In cases where residents couldn’t come outside, Lee led Blue up to the windows so they could see “the cowboy” and his horse.
As many of the seniors had worked around horses when young, the reminiscences started to flow as they talked about riding horse and working cattle.
The ladies liked visiting with “the cowboy” too! One woman teared up a bit as she spoke of her own horse, which in turn brought tears to Lee’s eyes.
A bystander told Lee: “Thank you for doing this. What an amazing gesture of human kindness!”
The following day, Lee and Blue also visited St. Benedict’s Nursing Home in Dickinson. That outing was bittersweet as Lee’s father had spent his last seven years of life there. Lee and Blue caught up with some of his father’s friends, both caregivers and residents. They later visited the Country House Residence in Dickinson too!
It was a great opportunity for the residents and staff to have a one-of-a-kind visitor while getting to remember “the old days.”
"I loved seeing the smiles on the residents' faces while they told stories of life on the farm," Lee says. "I realized how much it meant to them when I saw tears in their eyes as they said goodbye to us. It was well worth loading Blue in the trailer and bringing her to town!"
Thank you, Lee and Blue, for chasing the blues away.
RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) networks with local agencies that need volunteers by recruiting, placing and recognizing those volunteers in their communities. Volunteers 55 and older give their time and experience to make the lives of others better and to help communities become more resilient. Learn more by contacting Nancy Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org