Residents of Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapely on the corner of Greene Street and West Washington Lane found a way to spread cheer to needy children abroad. Nearly 20 resident seniors teamed up with Clowns Without Borders to craft sock puppets that will travel across the globe to reach children in zones of crisis.
Tim Cunningham,director of Clowns Without Borders US, said the idea is to bring smiles to the faces of suffering children through the creative performances by the non-profit’s teams of traveling clowns.
“We have a trip coming up to Haiti, a trip to Indonesia and we are headed to Ecuador in a few months,” said Cunningham. “We are going to send these socks out with the clowns to give away to kids and to incorporate into the clown shows that we do as props.”
In the past, Clowns Without Borders has worked with organizations like the Rotary Club International, non-profits and for-profits. “But we’ll go anywhere and do anything we can to help bring laughter,” said Cunningham.
Karen Doler, head of public relations at Wesley Enhanced Living, said that the socks had recently been donated to the senior home. She then contacted Cunningham with the suggestion that sock puppets be incorporated into the clowns’ acts. Cunningham agreed to lead the project and hopped on a train to Philadelphia to get started. “Any inanimate object that you bring a special life to you can use as a puppet and kids seem to really connect with that no matter what it is,” said Cunningham.
Seniors who participated said the project helped them reminisce about their youth. “I feel like I’m two years old, again,” said Josie Orlando, 90.
Angela DuBose, 84, said she loved the project and even wanted to participate in the next step. “I wish I could take the packages there,” said DuBose.
This was not Wesley Enhanced Living’s first experience with community service projects. Senior residents have participated in bake sales and tutoring programs in the past.
“We love to give back to the community and this is just one of the ways the residents can show their love for children,” said Carly Solis-Cohen, personal care and independent living coordinator at the residence. “ It’s very fitting that it’s the day before Valentine’s Day.”
Wesley Enhanced Living employees said they hope to make this project an annual event.