As the 2017 holiday season approached, Mike and Alice Hamilton decided they had reached a point in their lives where they had everything they wanted and needed.
As retired school teachers, Mike and Alice’s willingness to step outside of themselves and into the lives of those in need made them great contributors to the world of education. They have continued their acts of kindness today by giving to causes close to their heart.
“We had a discussion about having everything we need, and then later that day, the Masonic Villages Giving Catalog appeared in our mailbox,” Alice recalls. “It caught our eye right away. The woman on the cover of the catalog reminded us so much of our mothers.”
Mike and Alice lost both sets of their parents within the last few years and deeply connected with nearly all of the 27 items listed in the Masonic Villages Giving Catalog, which includes things residents use and enjoy each day.
“When our parents were alive, we were grateful for the places that gave them good quality care, because no one can do it alone,” Mike said. “We recognize that Masonic Village is one of those special places.”
Born and raised in Hershey, Pa., Mike has always been familiar with Masonic Village’s mission to care for aging adults when their health declines or funds run out, particularly from the service projects he completed on the Elizabethtown campus as a young Boy Scout.
Instead of purchasing Christmas gifts for each other, the Hamiltons decided to purchase a variety of items through the Masonic Villages Giving Catalog to benefit residents, including cardigan sweaters (the sweater pictured was the same style their mothers wore, so they knew they wanted to purchase two!), large print books, blankets for veterans, instruments for music therapy and more.
“We spent a long time with the catalog, reading each description and connecting with each photo,” Alice said. “We just wanted to choose the perfect items. It was fun and fulfilling for us.”
Perhaps the most meaningful item the Hamiltons purchased through the catalog was an iPod for music therapy.
“My mother suffered from dementia, so when we read about how Masonic Village uses the iPods to soothe those with memory loss by playing them customized playlists, our hearts were happy,” Alice said.
By trade, Alice’s mother was a talented pianist who performed in countless concert halls across the country, and Alice has many fond memories of her mother’s performances. Unfortunately, as her mother began to lose her memory, she also lost her ability to play.
“It’s difficult to see a loved one not remember who you are,” Alice recalls. “I think that was the worst part about it all.”
Fortunately, during her illness, music was still something special in Alice’s mother’s life. “Even though she could no longer play, music still brought her to life. Before she passed away, we would play music for her, and she would just light up,” Alice said.
During their visits, Mike and Alice would even bring old recordings of Alice’s mother’s own concerts. When she listened, her smile would light up the room, and she could be seen conducting along. “Music was something in her life that brought her great joy, and it did until the very end,” Alice recalls.
“Through our gifts, we want to allow the residents to continue the passions they’ve always had, even when their lives are changing,” Mike says.
When viewing the catalog, the couple also thought of Mike’s father, an avid gardener and farmer, and Alice’s father, a jazz musician, and decided to purchase sets of gardening tools and music therapy instruments for residents. In memory of both their fathers, who served in World War II, Alice and Mike also provided hand-made blankets for veterans on Masonic Village Hospice. These gifts and more were all chosen from the catalog with special memories in mind.
On Christmas Eve, the Hamiltons put their Giving Catalog under the tree. They discovered giving gifts to others was the perfect gift for one another.