Photo of Steve (left) and Ruth Nailor

Each day, Steve Nailor, 64, visits his wife Ruth, 75, at her senior living center in Camp Hill, Pa. Even a world health pandemic can’t stop him.

Ruth was a kindergarten teacher in the Harrisburg (Pa.) School District. She now requires full-time care and sufferers from dementia. Ruth is a Lifestories Memory Care Resident at The Woods at Cedar Run in Camp Hill, Pa.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Steve would visit his wife daily. They would hold hands as they went for walks and looked for deer near the property. They could walk to the in-house Bistro and enjoy a special mocha cafe. “Or I could just sit, hold and comfort her,” Steve said.

Then came COVID-19. The elderly or those with certain pre-existing conditions are particularly at risk for death if they contract the virus. This now creates a physical barrier between Steve and Ruth Nailor on his daily visits. He stands outside the home. She stays inside behind the safety of a window. COVID-19 created this physical barrier. However, Steve’s love for his wife faces no such divide. “I visit most days in mid-morning,” Steve said. “When Ruth sees me, she always waves and invites me to come in or come closer. I bring her fresh flowers, and hang a pot of colorful petunias next to a bird feeder outside her window. We talk about when we might visit her family home where she grew up. Ruth often laughs and tells the nearby aide a joke about me, though the small window opening and social distancing make it difficult for me to hear her.”

Ruth is quite the hit at The Woods at Cedar Run. Everywhere she goes, she takes her plush/stuffed version of her “second love,” Sunshine, her Beagle that lives with Steve in his home. “Ruth and her pup Sunshine brighten our days,” said Tasha Wicks-Forman, LifeStories director at the Memory Care facility at the Woods at Cedar Run. “We're a small neighborhood, and our residents and their spouses are like extensions of our own family, and seeing the love between Ruth and Steve is heartwarming. The strength and depth of their love is something to aspire to, and it's something we want to protect and help them hold on to for as long as Ruth's dementia will allow. That's why it's so much more important that we step up and make sure we can facilitate their visits in whatever way we can during these tough times."

Ruth has not allowed dementia to strip her of her kind heart and nature, according to Wicks-Forman. Her husband has told staff she has always been a caring person and eager to help anyone. She never had a bad thing to say about someone. “She is still like that even with this awful disease,” Wicks-Forman said. “She takes each day and chooses joy. It is an immense honor to be a part of her life.”

Steve can only be a part of his wife’s life through a two-inch opening in her window and from an “extra safe” social distance of 8 to 10 feet. That is just fine for him. “We miss being together, but we are both very fortunate that she has special people loving and caring for her when I can’t be there myself,” Steve said. “Ruth’s attention fades after a few minutes, so we blow each other kisses, tell each other, ‘I love you’ and say so long until tomorrow.”

Steve Nailor stands outside the nursing home of his wife Ruth talking to her through a window. Ruth is inside.

In more from the “Some Good News” department ...

Digital Ways to Say Thanks to Essential Workers

No shortage of heroes have emerged in this pandemic. Healthcare workers. Front-line responders, public officials, delivery drivers, grocery-store workers and the list goes on. The “essentials workers,” as they have been deemed. Essential meaning they work and risk lives to serve others.

The team at KOYA, a website and app that allows users to send gifts and messages, created an “essentially kind” website to specifically show thanks to these essential workers. You can upload videos and express your sentiments to these essential workers. “We launched essentially KIND as a way for people to express their gratitude to essential workers,” said Courtney Ruth, co-founder and marketing director of KOYA. “This site is filled with positive stories intended to make essential workers smile.”

The KOYA teams are doing both inbound and outbound marketing efforts, sending the videos to national associations, unions, various organizations and more. “It is our goal to get these videos into the hands of as many essential workers and first responders as possible,” Ruth said. “At the same time, we are hoping to gain more traction on the site to increase our video submissions and have something of value to show to essential workers and first responders.”

Rallying for a Village in Need

Rakesh Kotagiri, a service integration leader for IBM in the Lopudi Village area of India in the Andhra Pradesh state, along with his family and others have helped 900-plus families in his village get through challenging times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They've helped farm laborers and daily wagers struggling through lockdowns. The family has helped distribute about six different types of vegetables and eggs to families. Lopudi has a population of close to 1,500 people.

Kotagiri and his family are among a number of “hunger heroes” in India who have come forward to help the destitute and vulnerable from villages living under the open sky with little to no food, left to fend themselves and their families, according to an internal memo from IBM shared with CMSWire. Kotagiri has spent close to a decade and a half with IBM. He calls himself fortunate for being able to serve the 900-plus families.

Kotagiri and family have been contributing to the nonprofits like CRY already. “This time our own people in the village were undergoing the suffering,” Kotagiri said in the internal memo. “The majority of them being daily wagers exhausted their little reserves; some had money, but no availability of the farm that produces locally, and people were going through a stiff situation. It was important for us to serve them and give them what they need.”

A montage of images from the efforts of Rakesh Kotagiri and others to help get food to people in need in India.

Kotagiri discussed the idea with his father and uncle back home in Hyderabad, and with their help, he quickly executed the plan. While he continued to coordinate and collaborate with his dad and uncle from Hyderabad, the family with the help of local heads distributed six vegetables and eggs per family, sufficient for a week.

Since the government was supplying them staples like rice and wheat they thought distributing perishables will help them get a wholesome meal. They distributed the packs to more than 900 families in the village that has an average of four to five people per household. “Fortunately, we were able to align all of this in a couple of days, from procurement to the distribution,” Kotagiri said. The family worked closely with the local administrations and heads of different groups within the village and secured the help of at least 20 people in packaging and distributing the food. He and his family have been at the forefront in helping the vulnerable sections of the country via monetary support, intellectual help, counseling or connecting people to right opportunities.

“There is a lot of pride and joy I take,” Kotagiri said, “from the smallest of success stories I get associated with, and this experience was rich.”

Got any good news? We're listening. This is not in our customary wheelhouse of digital customer experience and digital workplace news. But we've tossed out the playbook just a bit in favor of some weekly good news through this pandemic. We all need it now, right? Send your feel-good stories to [email protected] Check out the other pieces in our ongoing series to help keep the good vibes coming in a time of crisis.