From left, Laura Grueser and Laura Cleland with the gifts to help make 2018 healthy for area families. Submitted photo.

The holidays can be a sad time for many of our older Meigs county residents. A lot of them are empty-nesters and many are dealing with sickness, including diabetes. While everyone is enjoying the dinners loaded with carbohydrates and the sweet deserts and candies, the diabetic has to be mindful of everything they eat. This can cause feelings of isolation and loneliness. As a Community Health Worker who helps educate high risk diabetes patients, my job can be full of heart ache for these special people.

But, this past December, I was privileged to spread some holiday cheer, with the help of some very giving elves. I was approached by members of the South Bethel Community Church. They and their pastor, Linda Damewood, wanted to help some of my patients with gifts and food, for Christmas. Because of their generosity, I was able to purchase several gifts and a full Christmas dinner for two families.

On December 22, Laura Cleland, Creating Healthy Communities Grant Coordinator, and myself delivered several gifts, including an electric pressure cooker, to our first recipient. Now, she can easily cook healthy meals, that are diabetic friendly. She and her family were also able to enjoy a Christmas dinner, with all the fixings. She was touched by the thoughtfulness of South Bethel and thanked us many times, citing that there hadn’t been Christmas gifts in her home for many years.

Our next family to receive gifts and a dinner are especially important to me, in that the gentleman is my very first patient admitted in to the ARC Power Grant Community Health Worker Program. As Laura and I carried gifts into their home, he set their small table-top tree on top of them, stating that they now had gifts under their tree. This patient has made so many strides toward a healthy lifestyle, including the cessation of eating deep fried foods on a daily basis. Because of South Bethel Community Church, he was able to open a new Air Fryer, so that he can continue to make healthy food choices.

I tell people that I have no pride when it comes to helping my patients find ways to make their lives easier. I’m so thankful to know people who are willing to help those in our community, who are in need. South Bethel Community Church is just one of many churches in our area who are willing to bless people by filling their needs. I am honored to live here.