"I was introduced to the Ruth and Naomi Senior Outreach Harp Ministry when Mama was first placed in the hospice program. Knowing Mama’s love of music, I asked for these ladies to visit her and to play for her. The day Mama died, Lynn Bledsoe, one of the harp ladies walked into her room, not knowing that she had died. She ended up visiting with my brother Will and me and then played her harp for us. What an uplifting and comforting visit we had! After the times we have had in nursing facilities the past years, we can see such a need for the Ruth and Naomi Ministry, and know that Mama would have loved to have been a part of this ministry if she could have been. Thank you." The above was enclosed in thank you notes that I sent for memorial gifts to RNSO in memory of my mother after she died.I personally witnessed the love & compassion that RNSO has for its clients during my mother's passing, and it was a life changing event for me. Because of that visit five years ago, I visit nursing homes and hospitals in Georgia ministering to the sick and elderly. There are no words to describe the rewards of this work- the sparkle in eyes that have little to sparkle about as I walk into the room, the voice that asks me to please come back three or four times before the visit is over, the tears that are shed in appreciation as we pray, singing along as I play music when there is little verbal response. Because of these experiences, I know what a worthwhile and meaningful organization Ruth and Naomi is. They have made such a difference in so many lives especially the elder orphans who have no one left to help them. The joy that has been brought to this forgotten population is priceless.
This is a very special outreach that touches the sick and actively dying patients and families. They are visited at home or in the hospital and music is performed with their permission or permission of the family (if present). There is noticable comfort and healing in the majority of patients served by this experience.
For several years, recently and in the past, I have been involved with mostly elder care of family members:father, mother, out-of-state mother-in-law. How I wish RNSO had been available for them! However, a few years ago, I was fortunate to hear Mary Porter and Lynn Bledsoe give a program on their work, and from that program and my experience with care-giving, I asked if they could play for a 104 year-old lady who was in a nursing home and who until 102 had been fairly active. She had little family who could care for her, so I became the one to look after her. When RNSO came to play, I was amazed to hear this bedridden, almost blind 104 year old begin to sing. Her roommate began singing also, and soon other residents came, some in their wheelchairs. Staff came, and there were tears. I saw for certain that afternoon what music and caring time can do for those who are ill, dying, or separated from the life they had previously lived. On the day this lady died, RNSO was planning to come again to play for her. Not only did this experience minister to those residents in the nursing home, it also ministered to those who cared for the residents as well as to me, a "family" member. I am now studying the harp, have enjoyed participating a few times in other nursing home settings and elder care, and am hoping to be trained before too long so as to volunteer with RNSO.
Ruth & Naomi came to the hospital and then the nursing home to play harps and visit with my 92 year old mother in law and her 93 year old husband who served our country during WWII. Their timing in visiting could not have been better in lifting spirits and sharing support during very challenging days. The role they play not only for clients facing end-of-life and chronic medical needs but for their loved ones cannot be overstated. Caring, concern, and true impact - we have seen personally how their work improved the mental, spiritual and physical health of our loved ones.
RNSO dedicated a week of their time to work with our school group who was doing service projects in the local community. They took our group of 6 high school students and 2 teachers under their wings, showed us "the ropes," inspired us, helped us dream, and brought so many avoided realities front and center. Each particpant in this informal internship grew as a result of the input of the two RNSO facilitators and the opportunities for service which they planned specifically for our group. I would highly recommend RNSO as both trainers and ministers of elder care.
Your work has been a tremendous gift to our whole family. How fortunate that we met by chance at an Alzheimer’s event in the local area. Serendipity. Dad has been in hospice for almost a year. He has lost almost all cognition, and connection with the outside world. Although unable to communicate, surprisingly he can still sing. Through your music, ministry and presence, you reach him. From singing “Amazing Grace” to “You Are My Sunshine” to “My Old Kentucky Home,” you help ease his journey, and ours. I can't tell you how much it means to see Dad's spirits lifted through your presence --especially during this time when it seems almost impossible to connect with him. Music is one of the most sustaining forces in his life, along with such caring people like you. Thank you for bringing your harp and heart to Dad, and to our family. I hope many people discover Ruth and Naomi, and benefit from all the blessings you bring.
This organization came to the nursing home where my mother was a resident. They taught me to play the harp, along with staff, residents, outsiders. They brought music, love, crafts, projects, spiritual nourishment in many forms. They formed relationships. They came to the bedside of many dying patients, including my mother, bringing music for the soul and ministering in times of great need not only to the patient, but to the family. I've seen elderly people open up to music, singing hymns, mouthing each word to the hymn, and they can't even speak a sentence. I've seen these ladies lay down their harp and stand and dance with a person in a wheelchair, making them feel so special and alive. A wonderful ministry.
This afternoon I played for a patient at the VA who was dying. . . . This is why I play at nursing homes-- not just to entertain, but to be there for a patient who is dying. This elderly man was surrounded by God's love as well as ours. Thank you all for teaching me how to play the harp and for your part in giving me this experience.
When I play the harp in nursing homes, I usually offer my harp to some of the residents so they can play it. When those with arthritic hands are able to pluck or slide their fingers across the strings and make sounds, the smiles on their faces are priceless. After I packed up my harp and started to leave one day, a patient, asked me where I was going. (She rarely speaks more than a word or two at a time.) I told her I would stay a while longer and asked if she would rather I just sat with her or play the harp. She wanted me to play!