Gospel Fest Shakes the Rafters at Midway Neurological Center's Annual Fall Celebration
By Lynne Kornecki
Gospel Fest delivered a "really big show" at Midway Neurological & Rehabilitation Center, 8540 S. Harlem Avenue, in Bridgeview recently as patients and families gathered enthusiastically to tap their feet and sway to the spirit-filled music at this skilled nursing facility's annual resident and family fall celebration.
Midway serves more than 300 short-term and long-term patients ranging in age from 25 to 100 with a variety of medical or behavioral health needs, including dementia.
Activity Director, Frances Eubanks, and her team worked for several months planning the by reservation-only event with an attendance of around 120 patients and family members. Each year Eubanks plans a different theme for the annual party to keep it fresh and fun for guests.
This year Eubanks, who has been the Activity Director there for 14 years, and her dedicated team set up a fairy tale stage of gossamer curtains with twinkling lights behind. They also organized all the other departments within the facility to donate and assemble gift baskets for the family raffle.
"Each themed basket carries out the Gospel theme," Eubanks explained. "From a wagon-filled ark brimming with stuffed animals assembled by my activity department to a bread and wine gift basket donated by our Care Plan department. The best part of this event is that it gets everyone involved - patients and staff - along with their families. It's something they all look forward to every year."
Gospel Fest's featured performers included Expressions of Praise Community Mime Ministry; Kristina Holmes -- interpretative dance soloist; Pastor Willie Harris and singers from the All Nations United Baptist Church of Christ Gospel Choir; and Pastor Calvin Eubanks from Abundance of Life Faith Deliverance Ministry sharing words of inspiration.
Michelle Palm-Louis, who sings alto, was the day's lead singer with the Gospel choir, and has sung with them for the past 11 years. When asked what drives her heartfelt performance, she replied "I go with the anointing of the spirit of God and always pray at home first before going out to sing."
Another choir member, Betty Oliver, has been a member for 41 years - since the church first opened its doors. "Being in the choir is spiritually uplifting for me," she said. "We're angels representing Jesus to lift up the downhearted."
Geneva Gordon attended the event with her son, Rodney, age 58, who is a not only a resident on the Alzheimer's floor, but also a music fan tapping his feet in time to the melodies. "He was really looking forward to today and you can tell he loves music, "she said pointing to his feet. "It's good for him to be off the dementia floor and around others - there's great positive energy here for him today."
Although Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Rayburn's daughter wasn't feeling well enough to leave her room, they were pleased to attend and support the event. "We've really enjoyed this today even though our daughter's condition prevents her from joining us," said Carolyn Rayburn. "In fact, I'm going to see if the mime dancers can come perform at our own church. I think our youth program would really like seeing them."
After the music concluded, Eubanks raffled off gift baskets and prizes to an enthusiastic, ticket-holding audience.
Long-term resident and grandfather, Jimmy McCurrie, couldn't have been more thrilled when his 2-year-old grandson, Xander Castelan's, ticket number was called for the brand new bicycle that had been generously donated to the raffle.
Though Xander will have to grow a bit more to fit comfortably on the bike he just won, he wasted no time hopping on and asking his dad to start pushing him around the room as his doting grandpa looked on.