June K. Berg's Christmas Gift - Chocolates and Card - Residents of Benedictine HCCI
- Published on Sunday, 25 December 2011 00:00
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
(Cover of June's gift cards)
Beginning at Christmas Time in December 2011, June made individual Christmas gifts of boxed chocolates with June’s own specially designed Christmas card to accompany the gift…each resident that could have candy received his or her own box and a Christmas card…this event has now become a yearly one that we hope to continue into the future…
The chocolates are the no sugar type to avoid any health conflicts with diabetic or other sugar sensitive residents…At first it was intended for the Alzheimer’s Villa of the Benedictine Health Care Center at Innsbruck but was immediately extended to cover all three nursing home facilities of the Benedictine. (Alzheimer’s Villa, Oakview Neighborhood and the Garden Terrace.)
While June as an Alzheimer’s victim, was a resident of the Alzheimer’s Villa at the Benedictine Health Care Center of Innsbruck, (2006 – 2008), Alzheimer’s and other dementia disease residents can be found throughout the nursing home facility. Federal statistics indicate an average of 2 out of 3 residents are in some stage of some form of dementia disease.
June and I know from experience that a nursing home is a very lonely place on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Stan acts as June’s agent to deliver the boxes and cards to the residents on the afternoon of Christmas Day…the funding comes out of June’s share of June and Stan’s life savings from their 56 years together before Alzheimer’s took June away…Stan likes to tell anyone who is interested that he is June’s Norwegian Christmas Troll, (with a Santa Claus cap) to do for June here on earth what she can no longer do as a resident of Heaven.
(Inside view of a June's Christmas Card (2011) given to residents with the Chocolates)
My approach to deliver the gift box of candy with a card was simply to knock on the nursing home resident's door or the door frame (most doors were open) and introduce myself...I told the resident or residents that I was the husband of June Berg a lady who used to live in the Alzheimer's Villa of the nursing home until she passed away... I told them that June was in Heaven but that I as her husband was acting as her agent here on earth to deliver a Christmas Gift and a Christmas Card from June to them...that June's gift was a reflection of God's love...would they like a box of chocolate candy as a gift from June along with a Christmas card from June?...if a family member was present...most were not...I would call the family member's attention to a memorial website link on the Christmas card and invite them to visit her website and learn more about June and Alzheimer's...frequently I would joke with such family members about being June's Norwegian Troll here on earth to do her work...I would also point out to them that the chocolate was no sugar type to avoid any health problems concerning sugar candies...In the three years of distributing gift boxes of candy and cards I have never had a refusal to accept either one..**I distributed 50 boxes of candy and cards the first year and 55 the second year. This number was increased to 60 in the year 2013...The number 60 was continued in 2014.
For the rooms with residents in late stages of a terminal disease and where such gifts seemed inappropriate, that room was simply bypassed...I frequently am guided in this regard by the staff person on duty in that particular nursing home neighborhood...in the second year of distribution, I was assisted by one of the activities staff persons at the Benedictine and she was helpful on such decisions. Because of my age in the mid 80"s I needed help on transporting over 55 boxes of candy and cards...over all it was/is a very fun time with a joyous reception always accorded by the residents. In he year 2013, I was honored by being assisted in the distribution of the candy and the cards by the President of the Benedictine Group and his wife...His office is normally in Duluth but he arranged to be at the Benedictine Nursing Home at Innsbruck on Christmas day 2013. In the year 2014, Patty one of the very efficient staff ladies who assisted me.
**One lady said she did not like chocolates but still accepted the box as she had a family member that she wanted to give it to. No one expressed or showed any signs of irritation or displeasure at my stopping by their room. Most appeared to be happy with the gift and card. One lady when hearing that I was the father of Julie one of the Benedictine employees, followed me down the hall telling me how great my daughter was!...a few residents told me they remembered June!...Many thanked me for the gift and the card. When in the Alzheimer's Villa, I always stop briefly at June's old room 207.
June and Stan were both appointed as Purple Angel World Dementia Ambassadors (October 2013) for the purpose of promoting world wide awareness of Alzheimer's and the dementia diseases. Such an awareness will in turn promote funding for research to find a cure and to promote proper care practices. June was appointed an honorary Purple Angel Ambassador with Stan as her representative in order to promote her many charitable programs that all have an Alzheimer's and dementia awareness connection. June is the only resident of Heaven to have received this honor...and who actually lives among the Angels...The Purple Angel world headquarters is in Devon, United Kingdom.
June’s gift and card is also intended to be a reflection of God’s love.
The Benedictine was kind enough to always provide a staff member to assist Stan in the delivery of June’s gifts of chocolates.
Chocolates were selected as one of the most common candy favorites among the elderly.
In addition, it has been found that chocolates have a calming effect on agitated residents.
Note: The gifts are truly gifts from June...I use money from June and my joint savings during our life time together...I consider half of our savings to still be June's and that I am holding them in trust for June and for God!
1. Christmas Day on Sunday 25 December 2011.
2. Christmas Day on Tuesday 25 December 2012.
3. Christmas Day on Wednesday 25 December 2013.
4. Christmas Day on Thursday 25 December 2014.
(Cover of June's Card to the residents is shown at the top of the page...the violin was a favorite of June and brought memories to her of the father and favorite uncle who both played the violin...the inside of the card has the above photo of June and a Christmas tree. Photo was taken in June's Home at Christmas time in 1996. This was the year before June started having early short term memory symptoms typical of Alzheimer's...the card also has a personal greeting from June to the residents and a short summary of her time at the Benedictine.) See below for the actual message...
Printed Messages on the Inside of the Card
On the left side of the folded card and under June’s picture (shown above) is the following printed message:
June K. Berg
8 November 1927 – 23 October 2008
June’s last years were spent as a resident of the Alzheimer’s Villa, Room 207, at the Benedictine Health Center of Innsbruck. It was after almost 3 yeears later that June passed away from the complications of Alzheimer's on the morning of 23 October 2008. June lay like a weary and exhausted solder on a field of battle, when she felt God's gentle touch on her shoulder and heard the words:... "Come Home June!"
June was a very humble lady with a big heart and a big smile. June was Stan Berg’s wife for 56 years. June was also the love and light of Stan’s life and now serves as his daily inspiration.
June’s memorial website is: www.junebergalzheimers.com
On the right side of the folded card is the following printed message:
May every Song of the
end on a note of praise
to our Saviour,
for Jesus is the reason
Wishing You A
Please accept this box of chocolates as a love gift from June on this Christmas Day in 2014.
This gift is also a reflection of God's Love in this holiday season when we celebrate the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem over 2014 years ago.
June is now living in a mansion just over the hilltop in that bright land where we’ll never grow old!..."And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes: and there shall be no more death, neigher sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there by an more pain: for the former things are passed away." (Revelations 21: 43 KJV)
(The cover violin symbolizes June’s love for the violin sounds as played by her father Henry and favorite uncle Jake.)
Note: Due to the success and popularity of the Christmas card program, I have utilized a similar Christmas card program with the restaurant and cafe staffs where the June's Alzheimer's Awareness Cards are being dispensed...Each of these restaurants has a special card dispenser at the front check out desk. Christmas Cards from June are given to each of the staff members. (Waiters, Waitresses, servers, kitchen staff, hosts and hostesses...special reference is also made on the card to the fact that June and Stan first met at a small restaurant in Barron, Wisconsin where June was working as a waitress in the spring of 1951. Approx. 100 Christmas cards are given to the restaurant staffs. (Restaurants involved are Applebees, Green Mill, New Brighton Bar and Grill (formerly Champps), Keys and Perkins in the Twin Cities and Maxine's in Stan's home town of Rice Lake, WI.)
The message on the Waiters, servers etc card is similar except for the first pragraph on the right side which reads:
"To our Waitresss, Waiter and Server Friends: Please accept this small gift and card from June on this Christmas time in 2014...you ae all very special...San first met June in the spring of 1951...Stan was on leave from the U.S. Army and June was a wairess in a small Restaurant (Gullickson's) in Barron, Wisconsin...
The paper on the Calming Effect of Chocolate on Late Stage Alzheimer's residents can be found on this website by cliicking on the below link:
Last Update 16 December 2014.
Kathleen Dean - Fredericktown, Ohio - (November 2013): "Very sweet and thoughtful idea Stan."
Anita Moran - Wrexham, United Kingdom - (November 2013): "I think this is a lovely thing you do Stanton. As you say Christmas can be a lonely time and I am sure your visit brightens up their day and let's them know there are people who care and of course you are carrying on your wonderful wife's work in doing this."
Sandy Spencer Whelan - New Albany, Indiana - (November 2013): "Stan, I think it's a wonderful thing to do! So many people in nursing homes don't have family or others to remember them at the holidays. I know our residents always enjoy receiving gifts... Christmas is all about giving and love..."
Chris Hodge - Wrexham, United Kingdom - (November 2013): "Stanton, is there nothing you do that isn't simply amazing? I only wish I could help you out more. The Christmas gifts and cards you give to the residents of Benedictine HCCI are absolutely fabulous. God speed my friend."
Christine Pickard - Lincoln, Lincolnshire, United Kingdom - (November 2013): "Wow, so Lovely ...Keep on... this is a rewarding and beautiful thing to do ..."
Peg Lee Pickering - Pontotoc, Mississippi - (November 2013): "I think it is a lovely tribute to June and a great comfort to all who receive! Done with love and care!...I think more of this kind of effort year round would make the world a much better place. God bless you!"
Linda Brannan - Glasgow, United Kingdom - (November 2013): "If you want to keep giving these then why not, I'm sure they are very much gratefully received by all residents...as God says, tis better to give than to receive is in the Bible."
Melissa Vaughan - Newburgh, Indiana - (November 2013): "Stanton it seems like a wonderful idea...You do what you feel is right....also ask yourself what would June do, or would you of appreciated it while you were caring for June..."
Jeannie Smith - Huntington, West Virginia - (November 2013): "I think this is absolutely wonderful...it keeps June's spirit alive and helps bring cheer to a lonely soul....my mother worked in a nursing home and she would tell me that alot of residents never had any visitors....you are letting them know they are not forgotten and bringing awareness to both plights: Alzheimers and those forgotten in longterm care facilities. If I were closer I would give you a hug! You are a blessing to all who know you and June is an angel watching down beaming with pride."
Sandra-Carehome Entertainer-Currie - Widnes, Cheshire, United Kingdom - (November 2013): "I think it's a lovely idea. I give out Christmas cards at the end of all my December shows, and for some residents without close family, it's the only card they'll get - I absolutely think you should continue with this program."
Don Bagwell - Summerville, South Carolina - (November 2013): "An extremely generous gesture. May it inspire others too."
Jill A. Lindsay - Norfolk, Virginia - (November 2013): "A very loving memorial to a lifetime spent with your beloved wife, too bad more people do not follow your example...this wonderful gesture."
Gill Denman - Essex, United Kingdom - (November 2013): "... you are providing a link to the outside world - maybe an only link. The only suggestion I would make is that you query in advance whether there are diet problems with any of the recipients (or lack of teeth!). That way you can have a back up present so they all get something that they can enjoy...My feelings are that this type of input can be of far more value that charitable donations where you are paying the staff wages bill, this goes straight to the end user. June and David would be proud of you...I would say that there is no doubt about what your motives are. Your words provide comfort and solace to very many people. What you are doing by giving sufferers a small token at Christmas is the sign or utter humanity, dementia is, as we all know, very de-humanising, a present such as this brings the person back into the world. Not one of us can tell what is really happening in the dementia mind. If it had been my relative who had received a present from June, i would have been very grateful, to be honest, I feel slightly emotional as I write this, people with dementia are abandoned by much of the world."
Lauretta Crepin - Gulf Coast, Queensland, Australia - (November 2013):"...wonderful program. There are so many lonely people in the world, especially the elderly in nursing home situations that any small gesture like yours must go a long way in alleviating the loneliness on this Holy Day. Keep on doing it Stan, but if I may be so bold to make a suggestion, could you not arrange for someone (school group or scouts or similar) to help you and maybe gradually take this wonderful program over when you are no longer able? Please do realise I don't mean to offend or upset you in suggesting this; only concern for you."
Teresa Allen - Arlington, Texas - (November 2013): "It's a wonderful idea. Anything that we can do to bless another, is an act of God."
Ruth Hart Moulton - Turkey, North Carolina - (November 2013): "I think it's a wonderful thing to do and you are wonderful for wanting to do it. I know what a nursing home can be like...especially around the holidays. Clearly June was a beautiful person as are you. Follow your heart...it is full of love and will not steer you wrong." I thank you for what you and June have done."
Melanie Jean Gardiner - Sidarion, Kerkira, Greece - (November 2013): "...such a wonderful gesture. Carry on with your lovely gift..."
Natalie Jacobs - Waldwick, New Jersey - (November 2013):"...absolutely yes! not all residents at my moms home are moderate to end stage Alz patients; there are MANY folks there with a variety of problems. of course theyd love a card and chocolate! keep doing what youre doing! the residents can never get enough attention and gifts, and im sure june would agree."
Barbara Espe - Aromas, California - (November 2013): "Stan - I still go to the facility and visit and it is a year today that my mom left for the hospital and never returned. I think it is wonderful what you do and I plan on volunteering as an ombudsman when I heal from my surgery which has me bedridden. I witnessed so many wrong things! I miss so many of the residents, which I consider to be friends. If they can't see that this is nothing but good will, what have we come to?"
Elaine Wharmby - Tamworth, United Kingdom - (November 2013): "Stanton this is a lovely gesture....pity there are not more people out there that would use their time and money to give the gift of Christmas and the love of God to others. As long as there are people who appreciate what you do on Junes' behalf at this special time of year you carry on."
Jane Moore - Camelford, United Kingdom - (November 2013): "This is truly a wonderful gift from June Stanton - you keep doing it! Jane."
Joyce Dunne - Liverpool, United Kingdom - (15 December 2014):"I dreamt that your June was looking down on me last night all I can see is her smiling face."
Louise Ann Howard - Batemans Bay, New South Wales, Australia - (25 December 2014):"What a story Stan. Wow that was a wonderful Christmas Day. You must have enjoyed it to do it. I know June was probably standing beside you all the time watching enjoying it too."
Anita Moran - Wrexham, United Kingdom - (25 December 2014):"Happy Christmas Stan. You sprinkled a little Christmas kindness and joy on your journey visiting all."
Ali Zimmerman - Pine Island, New York - (25 December 2014): "This is one of my favorites on June's website."
Mary Anne Lattin-Merrell - Minneapolis, Minnesota - (26 December 2014): "I am sure you brightened the day for many lonely souls, Mr Berg. Health and happiness to you in the New Year."
Debbie Larsen - Buffalo, Minnesota - (26 December 2014): "Merry Christmas Stan...Thank you for sharing all your memories and love for others. Your love for June shines the brightest."
The "Memoriam" article published in the Minneapolis Star - Tribune following June's death in October 2008, can be seen on this website by clicking the below link. It can also be found on the website on the top navigation strip of the home page under the "In Memoriam" label: