A young lady, eleven-year-old Ruby Kate Chitsey, has popped up on my radar no less than three times in the past week, and with good reason. Ruby’s mom, Amanda, is a nurse-practitioner who works in various nursing homes in and around their town of Harrison, Arkansas. Whenever possible, Ruby accompanies her mom on her rounds several days a week. I’ll let Ruby tell you in her own words what defining moment inspired her to begin her wondrous project …
“One day as my mom and I were leaving the nursing home, a patient named Pearl was glued to the exit doors staring for a long time at something. I figured whatever it was must be pretty exciting because I hadn’t seen anything exciting all day. So I hurried to catch up to her before whatever this was disappeared. I thought maybe it was a baby bird? A wreck in the parking lot? Ambulance?
I get up there and there is a normal dog being led out on a leash to a car by a normal lady. That was it! Boring. I asked her what was going on and she said that was her dog of 12ish years. The dog had come to visit for the day and she was staring at the door because she didn’t know the next time she would see her dog again.
Pearl’s face was so sad. I thought of all the things in this world Pearl could have, she would probably just ask for more visits with her dog. I know it costs $12 for a pet sitter/visit. I’m eleven and I have enough money saved in my piggy bank to get Pearl a few visits with her dog.”
Now, Ruby has already proven herself to be possessed of a huge, caring heart. When she was nine-years-old, she started a project “to promote the kindness of Harrison people and its businesses through a painted rock project, called Harrison Rocks.” Ruby gives credit for her inspiration to paint rocks to her cat, Bubba. Her first painted rock was a Bubba rock.
“My cat, he’s very inspiring and not everyone has a Bubba. I thought maybe if we put out a painted rock it would be like a little Bubba. It could make someone feel happy.”
But that was a precursor to her current project. After her encounter with Pearl in the nursing home, Ruby started thinking. Just $12 didn’t seem like much, but after talking to her mom and some of the nursing home residents, she learned that many of the people in the nursing homes are on Medicaid and while their daily care is covered by Medicaid, they are given only $40 in cash to purchase those extras each month.Ruby started spending more time with the residents, and began asking them a simple question: “If I could bring you three things in the whole world, what would those be?” The answers were surprisingly simple … fresh fruit, haircuts, snacks, or a book. And Ruby began keeping a notebook …
And thus, The Three Wishes project was born. With the help of her mother, she set up a GoFundMe account that took off like wildfire, earning over $96,000 since its inception two months ago!
One man, when asked by Ruby what he would like, said “I want some pants that fit!” Ruby’s mom says she has known that patient for over 18 years and never even realized that his pants were all too tight.
“I have been working in this field for 25 years, and you get used to caring for people’s medical needs, but you can forget about the need for joy.”
A visit to The Three Wishes Facebook page tells of the many special projects Ruby has done, such as the day she handed out over 100 candy bars to residents, some of whom said they had not had a candy bar in years. And the first week in February, Ruby and her mom delivered McDonald’s Happy Meals that were a hit with all!Ruby has also begun creating artwork to adorn the residents walls. Here’s a recent post by Ruby’s mom, Amanda …
Then there was the robotic cat (yes, there really is such a thing … I checked it out and then threatened to replace the Sig Six with them if they don’t behave! 😾) Ruby provided to a patient who absolutely adores cats more than anything in the world. This cat will sit on her lap all day if she likes and interact with her just enough to provide comfort.In addition to local media, Ruby’s project has attracted international attention, being featured on CNN as well as BBC.
Ruby visits the nursing homes (5 in total) a few times a week while Amanda makes her rounds, but to fill in the gaps, she has recruited a helper, one Marilyn Spurlock, who says …
“It gives me something to do. It took away a lot of my depression — because I felt worthless and couldn’t do anything to help anybody. I’ve been here so long, I was no longer useful. Every day that goes by, I get a little more excited. I go out into in the hub — the areas where people sit. I look and talk to them and ask if there’s anything they need.”
Ruby Kate Chitsey is only 11 years old, and yet she has discovered something that many people my own age still don’t understand … a simple concept that there is much joy to be gained from helping others. I hope never to be in a nursing home, but if ever I am, I hope there is someone like Ruby Kate to bring a ray of sunshine into my life! As I often do when writing about the very young who are doing good things, I have to give partial credit to Ruby’s parents, Dr. Blake and Amanda Chitsey, for they have obviously been superior role models. And I give a huge thumbs-up to this young lady for dedicating her time and energy to helping so many people!