A Little Compassion; a Lot of Joy

Note: Will return on Monday with an analysis of the U.S./Iran crisis.

Eleven-year old Ruby Chitsey was not like most sixth graders who were into sports and pageantry.

“If you don’t do those things in rural Arkansas,” Ruby’s mother, Amanda Chitsey said, “you are really left out.”

However, Ruby developed another interest.

Amanda works as a nurse in Harrison, Arkansas. Following her mother as she traveled around nursing homes, Ruby came up with an interesting idea. As Boston’s WBUR-FM explains (Aug. 6), “She went door to door at the nursing home asking residents to list their three wishes.

“I was very surprised,” Ruby said. “I thought people would say money, houses, a Lamborghini.”

“They wanted french fries and they wanted … pants that fit,” Ruby’s mother Amanda said.

“The list was filled with simple requests like new pillows, books, razors and peanut butter. Amanda says the experience was very humbling.

“ ‘I thought I was really good at what I did for a living and I was really good at treating colds and pain and diabetes and hypertension,’ said Amanda. ‘But I was really terrible at looking at their joy. … [Ruby] changed that for me and that notebook totally changed my career.’

“Ruby and Amanda bought all of the items on the first list and that started a chain reaction of generosity and kindness. They launched a GoFundMe page to raise money to fulfill more wishes. Soon after, Ruby’s story went viral and she’s now raised more than $250,000 and founded her own nonprofit called Three Wishes for Ruby’s Residents.

“Ruby and Amanda have used the money to buy small things like strawberries as well as bigger things like televisions and cellphones. One donor gave an electric wheelchair to one of the residents. Ruby, meanwhile, has more high hopes for her project.

“ ‘I’d like it to go on forever and ever and ever,’ she said. ‘Because like I just want it to go bigger and like I want it to go around the states and even in different countries.’ ”

And she’s on her way!

As CBS reporter Steve Hartman points out, “Ruby has helped start chapters of her charity in other states. She speaks to advocates for the aging.”

And what has Ruby gained from the experience? Here’s what she wrote.

“Things I’ve learned since I made my first wish come true for a nursing home resident:

1. I can brighten someone’s entire week with a 0.37 cent can of Vienna sausage.
2. America’s nursing home elders need us. Big time.
3. Twenty (20$) is plenty. I mean it. Our wishes are simple.
4. We CAN do it. “Three Wishes” is powered by kid activists, just like me, and they are sparking change for needy seniors and getting it done.
5. We have fulfilled over 2500 wishes for nursing home residents since we started last year. That’s HUGE!
6. We need you. We have built a community center (photo above) for our elders to connect the generations in ways you’ve never seen before. YES!!! It’s unbelievable. I can’t wait to share it with you all.
We need your support to stay strong, finish our community center, be heard and most importantly, keep fulfilling residents’ wishes.
Love ❤️ Ruby”

What do we gain from watching her?

That the simple act of compassion and a little generosity can bring a lot of joy into the lives of others.

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