Our Story

Ray 4 Hope was inspired by the passing of my mother, Mary Balutis, on October 24th, 2019. My mom was sick for several years with COPD and Dementia. As a single mom and working full time, giving her twenty four hour care was not doable. I had to place her in a nursing home in April of 2019. This was definitely the most difficult decision I have ever faced, and doing it alone was almost unbearable.

At first it was a huge adjustment for my mom and myself, it was heartbreaking for both of us. Each day during my visits I would take in the surroundings by detail. I watched the nurses, the assistants, the residents and their families. I was observant to how everyone was treated and cared for, and it surpassed my expectations of great care. What I realized is how incredibly lonely each resident is. Very few had visitors daily, most visits were rare or not at all. I recognized the smallest gestures were appreciated, from a hug, a smile or a quick hello. Often I would bring cookies or simply share my time with others. During that moment I saw them smile and knew they felt loved and cared about.

Unfortunately, my mom’s stay was short. Her last day was Oct 24, as she passed unexpectedly. This was a shock because four days prior they gave her six months. At this point everything seemed to move so fast. After I took time to lay my mom to rest and grieve, I knew I wanted to help the residents in some way. I just didn’t know what or how. I chatted with my kids asking for ideas for the residents. After several days, my daughter Laynie suggested adopting a grandparent for Christmas.

In the past we always adopted children for Christmas so this seemed so fitting. We knew this could help spread happiness and love in my moms honor. We decided to adopt grandparents at Medilodge nursing home where my mom was a resident at. On December 7th, 2019 I made a post on Facebook, adopt a grandparent @ Medilodge for $25.00. Our initial goal was to give gifts to twelve residents in one wing and in just one day that was a success.

We decided to give the whole nursing home a chance to be adopted and one week later it was also a success. My kids and I shopped for each resident and coordinated with the activities director for ideas. We made sure each resident had five gifts each to open, most included a warm fuzzy blanket, reading glass, candy and a puzzle. It was important to me that we wrap all the gifts. I wondered how long it might have been for some since they unwrapped a gift? Although it took over twenty hours to wrap the presents it was well worth it. We hand delivered each present on Christmas day. Watching them smile and get just as excited to receive gift as children do was priceless. This definitely was our favorite Christmas of all. My kids and I look forward to doing this each year and expanding as we continue on this journey together.

— 
Ms. Shellie Ray