Local man created Bring Smiles to Seniors

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Ron Tyson and his grandmother Lola Mae.

 

OKEECHOBEE — While visiting his grandmother, Lola Mae, in the nursing home, Ron Tyson noticed that many of the nursing home residents did not have regular visitors or even receive cards or gifts in the mail, and he vowed to do something about that. Mr. Tyson was born and raised in Okeechobee and graduated from Okeechobee High School in 1980. His grandmother entered the Okeechobee Healthcare Facility about five years ago with dementia and, sadly, passed away about two years ago. During his visits, Mr. Tyson said he was struck by how many of the residents did not have visitors, cards or any contact from outside the facility at all, and this broke his heart.

In March 2016, he founded a nonprofit called Bring Smiles to Seniors. They work with schools, civic groups and companies to make and decorate greeting cards that are delivered to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, seniors in elderly nutrition programs and those who are homebound. Last year they delivered over 40,000 cards to senior communities in all 50 states.

Their mission statement is, “We strive to connect the circle of life by working with schools, civic organizations and employers to decorate cards for seniors in nursing homes, assisted and independent living communities, and those that are homebound or participating in elderly nutrition programs. Our team hopes to help younger generations understand the importance of remembering the ones who paved the way for us, while reminding seniors that they are cared for and not forgotten.”

He also does a weekly podcast called “Mornings with Ron” that provoke thought, inspire the heart and provide food for the soul. The podcasts vary from “The Door is Always Open” to “Making the Most of Our Life’s Minutes” to “Taking Care of Others.”

“At Bring Smiles to Seniors, we serve seniors across the country. These services are designed to let seniors know that they are not forgotten and to bring a smile to their face by providing them greeting cards that are made and decorated by individuals all over the country. Our organization collects donations for supplies such as stamps, stickers and postage, as well as greeting cards that we work with schools, civic organizations and employers to decorate,” says Mr. Tyson.

He said there are many seniors who feel alone and unloved maybe because they no longer have family living or they have just been abandoned by those they once cared for. Bring Smiles to Seniors is trying to remedy this situation by reaching out to these lonely people. They receive donated cards from all over the country and in some cases, he said, even farther!

If you would like to volunteer, you can reach them on their website bringsmilestoseniors.com/contact-us or by mail to:

Bring Smiles to Seniors Inc.

P.O. Box 226, Odessa, FL 33556

In Michigan: P.O. Box 195, Williamston, MI 48895

Email: info@bringsmilestoseniors.com.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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