Billy Thomas of Brandon rallies with a group of volunteers who are a part of The Nursing Home Ministry in the lobby of the VA Nursing Home in west Jackson.
Now, when you think of "Nursing Home Ministry" you may picture a song service and preaching for the residents. But no, when Billy retired from the full time pastorate, something that had been in the back of his mind for years finally had time to move to the front.
That idea is that there is a need for people just to go see people who are residents of nursing homes, especially those who NEVER get a visit from anyone.
"Seventy per cent of all residents in nursing homes across the United States never receive a visit of any kind other than staff," said Thomas, who is the Director of the Nursing Home Ministry.
And that makes for some rather lonely days for those who live there. Mildred Rayburn was a nurse in the Second World War and lives at the VA Home in Jackson. She's one of the ones who have very few outside visitors.
"Oh no. There's nobody but me. I'm the only kid in the family," said Rayburn.
One of the volunteers, Heather Mangum, sees the need for this type one-on-one visit of nursing home residents from her own observation.
"The most value that I see in it overall is comes from my grandparents both being in the nursing home," said Mangum. "And me seeing my grandfather day in and day out ask, ‘Heather, I would love for someone to come and just sit and visit with me. Someone to just come and read the Bible. Someone to come and sit and talk with me that's not a member of the family.'"
Of all the residents I talked to while shooting this story, not a one of them said they got too many visits. Most just the opposite. They light up when someone comes through the door to see them.
"If you know anyone that's in a nursing home who doesn't receive a visit, let us know and tell them we're coming," said Thomas.
The Nursing Home Ministry is a non-profit organization based in Brandon and it has a web page and all the modern things you have to have to be a ministry.
But mainly they are staffed with volunteers who are wiling to go sit and talk for an hour to someone who has no one to talk to, and in doing so, is Making a Difference.
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