GMG students donate paintings to Iowa River Hospice

Photo by Margaret Thomsen GMG Fifth Grade Students and staff from Iowa River Hospice House are pictured with the canvass heart paintings the students created and donated. Pictured in front kneeling: Executive Director Tami Lichenberg,Colton Zielstorf, Caleb Cox, Lukas Soukhavong, Allison Vaverka, Madison Edwards, Emilie Claussen, Abby Cobb, Carly Sager and Alivia Edens. Second row: Katelyn Nodland, Lily Bru, Karissa Gohring. In back are: Shelby Bovenmyer, Rhonda Miller, Olivia Zaruba, Mrs. Shelli Taylor, Reese Dieleman, Jabari Woodburry, Anthony Waters, Matthew DeSchamp, Trip Gearhart, Davon Howell, Amelia Hutchinson, Mrs. Jane Smith, Christy Coffelt and Esmeraldo Adkin.

As the 21 GMG Fifth Graders entered the Iowa River Hospice House they were embarking on a life long journey of sharing, compassion, understanding and “paying it forward”. You see, the students of Mrs. Shelli Taylor were each donating a hand-painted canvass with a heart encrypted with the words, “Always In My Heart”.

In addition to the paintings, a $150 check was presented to Iowa River Hospice by the GMG Fifth Graders. The students were assisted with the paintings by retired GMG teacher, Mrs. Jane Smith.

This endeavor began with Mrs. Taylor receiving an e-mail from GMG Board President Anne Jackson describing “Project Jack”. It is sponsored by the Realtor Foundation of Iowa in memory of Jack Lindaman, a little boy who lost his life at age six to spinal muscular atrophy. With Project Jack his memory and loving spirit will continue through the good deeds of children.

Project Jack is aimed to fifth grade classes across Iowa via a $250 grant to pay it forward to a project of their choice. Mrs. Taylor said, “I knew Mrs. Smith did the canvas paintings so I came up with the idea to do them for the Iowa River Hospice House with the saying, “Always in my Heart”. The students and I thought we could give them to the house and they could put them in a family’s room. When their loved one passed away, they could take the painting with them to hang in a special place in their home, a reminder of their loved one.”

Mrs. Taylor had had a positive experience with Hospice when her father was in the last few months of his life. She said the care her father and their family received “was unbelievable . we will forever be grateful”.

Photo by Margaret Thomsen The GMG Fifth Grade students presented a check for $150 to Iowa River Hospice. This was in conjunction with the canvass paintings from Project Jack. Alli Vaverka is pictured presenting the check to Iowa River Hospice House Community Liaison Director Rhonda Miller.

Fifth grader Caleb Cox stated, “I was happy to go out and give my art. It is something I could do to spread happiness.”

Upon arrival at the Iowa River Hospice House in Marshalltown the students were greeted by Rhonda Miller, Community Liaison, volunteer division. She told the children that Hospice was established in 1983 and that volunteers are a huge part of the services.

Music therapy, massages, pet therapy – even a visit from a Rhode Island Red hen – are all part of the services offered. A lot of people remain in their own homes and sometimes when they need more care they come to the Iowa River Hospice House in Marshalltown. It is located in a residential area east of the Marshalltown Mall. A staff of 50 employees provides care. There are six bed inpatient suites, funded via donations and the care is for anyone of any age.

Staff members gave the students a tour of the facilities. There were patients at the facility and it was truly amazing how these young students were so quietly respectful of the situation. These children have been positively impacted and will remember this event and Project Jack for the rest of their lives.

Photo by Margaret Thomsen GMG Fifth Grader Caleb Cox stated, “I was happy to go out and give my art. It is something I could do to spread happiness”. Pictured are Nurse Christy Coffelt and Caleb cox.