Grand Island and Hastings residents are showing some heart to residents of The Kensington and CountryHouse Residence during the COVID-19 epidemic.
With the residents being locked down due to the coronavirus concern, Jessica Soucie, director of both The Kensington in Hastings and CountryHouse Residence in Grand Island, said the facilities wanted to find a way for residents to have an outing that both practices social distancing and shows them that the communities care about them.
Nikki Schulte, a school counselor at Westridge Middle School, said the school has joined forces with Soucie and both facilities on a heart project where Grand Island and Hastings community members can cut out paper hearts to place in their doors and/or windows.
She said the hearts are placed at homes throughout Grand Island and Hastings and are not confined to a specific neighborhood.
“When people drive by, they see it and it is a way to bring everyone together since we can’t really be around each other right now,” Schulte said. “They can write messages on the hearts if they want. It is open to anything they want to do.”
Soucie said The Kensington and CountryHouse residents drive around town in both Grand island and Hastings in groups of eight or fewer to see the hearts. The bus takes multiple trips a day to ensure that each of the 30 to 40 residents are able to see them. She said it brings them joy being able to see all the hearts around town.
“They cannot have their loved ones come and see them right now, so it is us taking them to people that care about them in the best way we can with distancing ourselves,” Soucie said. “It really gives them all the same feeling that everybody is thinking about them and knowing we do not want them to feel alone. We are still trying to show our love and encouragement.”
Soucie said lots of people have asked her what they can do to lift her residents’ spirits during this time. She said the heart project is “the perfect way” to do so.
“The difference it is making for the residents is amazing to see,” she said. “They light up and point the hearts out before we even see them sometimes. We just want to thank everybody for their constant love and support for both our properties.”
Schulte said she would love to have people in every community in Central Nebraska and the entire state get involved in the heart project. She said Westridge got involved to allow the school community to show its support for not only The Kensington and CountryHouse residents, but to any essential personnel who are working during the COVID-19 crisis.
“We wanted to show our support for everyone who is still having to go to work and is out there,” she said. “They are taking the risk in working for the hospital or the government. We are trying to show that we are here and supporting them.”