A new group of “residents” arrived at The Oaks on Friday: zebra longwing and monarch butterflies.
“I was excited to have them on my hand. They’re beautiful,” 76-year-old Sylvia Fogle said.
She’s among those who live at the long-term nursing care facility on Methodist Oaks Drive in Orangeburg.
Grace Still, 90, also lives there.
She said the butterflies are beautiful.
“They’re certainly God’s creations,” she said.
The butterflies were released Friday “to encourage the residents to always remain hopeful and to enhance their psychosocial needs by seeing the release of the butterflies. They were excited,” social worker Charlene Byrd said.
The 48 butterflies were sent to The Oaks by mail from Tennessee. They arrived in a box with cool packs inside, which safely put the butterflies in a dormant state.
For the past two months, a porch by the therapy room has undergone a transformation of its own.
Allie Kornegay, the facility’s rehabilitation director, and therapists “took ownership of it and said ‘We’ll take care of it from here,’” The Oaks Administrator Val Kreil said.
They cleaned the porch and placed numerous flowering plants inside of it, making sure to keep the plants watered and ready for the arrival of the new, flittering “residents.”
Byrd said residents can benefit from having some special contact with the outside world, especially given the restrictions on outside activities and visitors due to COVID-19.
“It’s a way to let them know that hope still is available and we’re going to get through all of this COVID-19 and we’re going to get back to where we were,” Byrd said.
“The residents are missing their families and the families are missing the residents,” Byrd said. “So Mr. Kreil thought of the idea to let them know there is hope and to let them be part of it, to let them feel better.”
She asked, “How do you bring life into the building? How do you make them part of the world?
“So this is to help with those issues, be it depression, feeling isolated, to know there is a world out there and that they can be part of it.”
Lauryn Colmer, an occupational therapist, said “Seeing their smiling faces really made us employees feel great to do something special.”
As for Fogle and Still, they’re thankful for the opportunity to visit the butterflies.
“I like them all. All of them are beautiful,” Fogle said.
She recalled playing with butterflies as a child.
While on the porch, she talked about how she didn’t want a zebra longwing butterfly to leave her hand.
Still recalled that her niece had a church wedding and, following the ceremony, they walked over to a butterfly garden and let butterflies loose.
“The crowd enjoyed it,” she remembered.
The butterflies on the porch at The Oaks spurred those good memories.
“They’re all beautiful,” she said.
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