Sometimes prayers are answered in unexpected ways.
That was certainly the case when a Boy Scout arrived at the Martha Coker Green House Homes carrying a load of PVC pipe and plastic sheets.
There have been plenty of prayers around Martha Coker this year as COVID-19 has turned life upside down.
Residents of long term care facilities are among the most vulnerable to the virus. Facilities like Martha Coker have been forced to take strong precautions to protect their residents.
The most difficult of those precautions has been closing off contact with the outside world – including family members. Visits from the other side of windows, and then later from six feet away on a patio, became the only way residents could spend time with their loved ones.
Those visits are always welcomed, but physical contact was still greatly missed.
Before COVID-19 arrived it would have been inconceivable for most residents to greet their loved ones without a hug. Not being able to share a simple embrace has been hard on both the residents and those who care for them.
Many have prayed for the chance to hold their loved ones again.
Those prayers were answered when 17-year-old Cooper Williams of Madison arrived with his simple, but wonderful, invention.
Williams, the grandson of Benton and Mary Hayman of Yazoo City, is working to become an Eagle Scout, which is the highest level in scouting. Completing a service project is part of the process.
“I absolutely love building things,” Williams said when describing the process that led him to creating his “hugging booths.”
Williams got some help with the inspiration from his mother, Sherry Williams, who has experience working in nursing homes. He ended up choosing Martha Coker because of his grandmother’s friendship with Director Julie Hoffman.
He spent the next few weeks perfecting the booths. He ended up building a booth for each home at the Martha Coker campus.
Williams said he enjoyed the process of building the hugging booths, but he didn’t fully comprehend the significance of his project until he saw the booths being used.
“I didn’t realize how much it would mean until I saw it,” he said.
Hoffman knew exactly how much something like this was needed, but even with her years of experience working in assisted living, she couldn’t help but get emotional as well.
“I tear up every time I see them hug,” Hoffman said.
The hugging booths will remain in operation at Martha Coker for as long as they are needed. Family members interested in making an appointment can call 662-746-4621.