Pam Gonzalez, says her mother, Elidia Gonzalez Cisnero, was an Oak Brook Heath and Rehabilitation Center resident who always looked forward to the holidays because that’s when the most visitors would come. Last year. Gonzalez and her mother discussed their concerns about the residents that might be alone during this time. Her mother suggested that something be done for them, “To show them someone cares and to bring a bit of joy to their lives.”
Sadly, two weeks later and just before Christmas, Gonzalez’s sweet mother passed away. Gonzalez was with her when she took her last breath. Her mother’s compassion and concern for the other residents was so touching, Gonzalez says, “I felt that I had to do something to honor her wishes. So, I approached my cousin Lisa Herrera and good friend JoeAnn Alaniz. I honestly thought it would just be the three of us.” But, in that short time, a few more community members joined in, and they quickly formed a caroling group called, The Jingle Belles. They sang to the residents and lifted their spirits.
This year, the group is hoping to spread even more Christmas cheer, and are inviting new members to join them in the merrymaking. JoeAnn Alaniz is hoping to get the group organized, and hold a vote to choose 10 songs. “I’ll print out lyrics so that we can practice on our own spare time and also make a Christmas Carol booklet. When Christmas gets closer, maybe in the next two weeks we can have a meet and greet and practice some songs,” JoeAnn Alaniz posts in the Jingle Belles Facebook Group.
Gonzalez shares her hopes, “I would like for this to become a tradition for all those who are forgotten in nursing homes or who are alone in their own homes for the holidays. Sometimes we forget that even a short visit, a warm hug or friendly conversation can lift a person’s spirits, especially when they have no one close by. I know my mom is proud of everyone coming together to spread joy to those who would otherwise be alone or without visitors for Christmas.” She goes on to say, “Our veterans are one of my main concerns. They have sacrificed so much for us, for this country. A few songs is the least we can do for them.” Gonzalez plans to dedicate this year’s Christmas Caroling to veterans and to their families, in honor of their service and sacrifice.
If you’d like to join them in serenading local nursing home residents, Gonzalez suggests that you search for their group on Facebook and request to join them.