Bill Bowman, who is editor of the Franklin Reporter & Advocate, wrote this story for his publication on December 24, 2017.
Nearly a dozen members of a local women’s group brought some Christmas Eve cheer to residents at the Willow Creek Rehab & Care Center on Easton Avenue, even though the women don’t celebrate Christmas.
The visitors were from the Somerset-Highland Park chapter of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, a national organization comprising Jewish and Muslim women.
The group visited patients at the center who otherwise would not have had any visitors and who wouldn’t have had any Christmas presents, said Judy Richman of Highland Park, a co-founder of the chapter.
“The gifts they requested, many of them were basic kinds of gifts; socks and underwear, sweatpants and shirts,” she said. “One man asked for classical music CDs. And we brought boxes of cookies for the nurses.”
Each of the organization’s roughly 100 chapters picked an activity for the day, Ms. Richman said. The Somerset-Highland Park chapter picked Willow Creek, because the chapter’s other co-founder, Dr. Tasneem Shamim, had patients there and knows the staff.
“They provided us with nine people and their needs,” Ms. Richman said.
The experience was “really good,” Dr. Shamim said. “I always felt that individually each of us is a good human being. To do it together as a group brings a lot more cheer.”
“We get more by giving than receiving, and it was fun to wrap up the gifts together in the house, and to shop,” she said. “It motivates you to do the good things. When you see that there are other people who are also devoted to doing good things, it leaves you happy and encouraged.”
“It’s been really special to work together in that way and to come and to say we’re Jewish women and Muslim women, this isn’t our holiday, but we wanted to share something with you, and we want you to know that, notwithstanding what you read in the newspaper, we love each other,” Ms. Richman said.
Some of the residents the women visited were housed in the facility’s memory care unit. Abass Savage, the unit’s manager, said the visit was very much appreciated.
“This is the first visit specifically to this unit,” he said. “We appreciate the community for bringing these gifts to our patients.”