Christmas Celebration for Northeast Ohio Adult Care Facility Residents

EAST CANTON, Ohio – Residents of adult care facilities in northeast Ohio got an early taste of Christmas with the annual holiday party sponsored by the Ohio Adult Care Facilities Association and NAMI Ohio.

The party on December 14 at the Foltz Community Center in East Canton was attended by about 150 people, including residents and staff from adult care facilities in Stark, Columbiana, Wayne, Holmes and Tuscarawas counties. The annual event was sponsored by the Ohio Adult Care Facilities Association, along with NAMI Ohio and funding help from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and private donors. The party moves to different locations each year to accommodate people in group homes in different parts of Ohio.

The holiday gala featured a hot meal, music, crafts and, of course, a visit from Santa Claus who came prepared with dozens of overstuffed gift bags and stockings for all residents.

Mark Mayle, the president of the Adult Care Facilities Association, said the annual holiday gathering is very important for many people who deal with mental health issues and live in group homes because they either don’t have family members or rarely see them. For many, the NAMI party is the only time they have to celebrate Christmas and get gifts.

“This is it for many of them,” Mark said. “They are sitting here today with their family around them. It doesn’t always have to be a blood family member to be a family.”

Mark operates several group homes and brought buses loaded with 47 residents to the party.

Shirley, one of his residents from Minerva, Ohio, sat quietly waiting for lunch time and the distribution of gifts.

“I like a Christmas present,” she said. “Who doesn’t?”

Zack, another home resident from Minerva, said this is his only time to celebrate the holidays since he has no family members left.

“It’s nice,” he said. “We’re having a good time.”

Henry, a resident from nearby Akron, was extremely anxious to get at the gifts.

“I want that big bag,” he said several times. He said a white Ohio State jacket was on his wish list.

Sure enough, Santa came through for Henry. Later, he proudly opened up a big bag containing a white and black OSU jacket which he immediately put on, and just as quickly put his orange sweatshirt on over it.

The gift bags were distributed by the Ohio Adult Care Facilities and NAMI elves as each resident’s name was called out. No one went home empty-handed.

Before lunch, there were crafts, Christmas carols, and pictures with Santa.

Partygoers enjoyed a hot meal of chicken, roast beef, pasta, salad, rolls and chocolate brownies for dessert.

Every resident attending the party was gifted a colorful bag filled with items they had requested on their “wish list,” from bed comforters and boots to scarfs and jackets. They also received a stocking filled with food treats and toiletry items.