Resourceful nurse brings car show to residents of local nursing home

Published: Jul. 6, 2020 at 7:13 PM CDT
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MEXIA, Texas (KWTX) - A Central Texas nurse took matters into her own hands on the Fourth of July chasing down cars, literally, at a nearby classic car show and asking the owners to park outside her nursing home in hopes of bringing a smile to the faces of residents she says are lonely, bored and miss just about everything these days as the threat of coronavirus has left its residents locked down since early March.

Shelby Ellison, the charge nurse at The Manor Healthcare Residence in Mexia, says she’s heartbroken for what nursing home residents all over the world are experiencing right now.

“My heart breaks for my residents. They are bored and lonely and have nothing to look forward to. They miss volunteers. They miss activities. They miss seeing faces and smiles,” Shelby said.

“They miss the freedom to sit on the front porch and watch the cars go by.”

So Shelby brought the cars to them. It wasn’t planned. In fact, the nurse didn’t even know about the Mexia Lions Club Red, White and Blue Car Show until she saw one of the cars parked at a restaurant across the street from the nursing home.

She at first called the local chamber and then the Lion’s Club to inquire about the downtown car show but no one answered.

But she couldn’t sit idle especially on a day of celebration.

“I had to do something. I know I couldn’t bring them their families but I could bring some entertainment into their lives,” she said.

“I stepped out of my comfort zone and jumped in my car and ran down as many of the cars from the car show I could.”

The 2011 Groesbeck High School graduate found three cars downtown.

She also went table-to-table at the restaurant across the street asking who owned the two classic cars parked outside.

Everyone she approached happily agreed to stop by and park outside the nursing home dining windows.

Of the 30 plus cars, she ended up tracking down the owners of five, which happened to include two Model-T’s and the first, second and third place cars.

“They weren’t hard to convince. They were all up for it!” Shelby said.

Shelby said the car owners got out of their cars and talked to the smiling residents through the window and masks.

“They were talking to them through the windows explaining the engines and the residents loved it even more than I thought they would. You could tell they were smiling through their masks.”

It was a much needed pick-me-up, Shelby says, for a group of people who have been so negatively impacted by COVID-19.

She says patients are struggling with isolation and depression after being separated from their families, volunteers and activities for months now.

“No families, no volunteers to come by and some even looking forward to church on Sundays and there is no end in sight and I think most of them are just bored and lonely and they just miss their families.”

“Something has got to change in nursing homes. I don’t even think the residents are scared of this virus anymore. They’re scared of dying alone.”

Resident Sammie Burgess didn’t even want to get out of bed on the Fourth of July , Shelby said, but when he heard the cars were coming he rushed to get a peak.

“You have something to be happy about. You have something to do,” Burgess said. “At least somebody cares. It was so much fun.”

It was a feeling echoed by resident Mildred McKinney.

“I’m so glad they came and brought the cars and I got to go out and see them on the 4th of July,” McKinney said.

Meanwhile the 26-year-old charge nurse is already looking ahead to the residents next big holiday but she’s not waiting until Christmas to bring them some holiday cheer.

I’m working on a Christmas in July for them,” she said. “I love these people so much and I hate seeing them down. I miss their smiling faces. I would do anything for them and I’m so thankful for everyone who helped pull this off.”

Copyright 2020 KWTX. All rights reserved.

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