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7’s Hero: Local volunteers organize a day of fishing for Treasure Valley seniors

The coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult for elderly residents to leave their care facilities, so volunteers brought a fishing pond to them.

BOISE, Idaho — During the COVID-19 pandemic, safety protocols and prevention measures are affecting seniors living in retirement communities and care facilities, emotionally and socially.

Unfortunately, seniors are not receiving many visitors due to COVID-19 restrictions. A group of local volunteers recognized this and decided to give the seniors at several local facilities a special surprise.

This month, the residents at Garden Plaza of Valley View in Boise had the chance to go fishing. However, it was not the classic sit-on-a-dock-outside fishing. 

Volunteers brought a "fishing pond" to them.

“Oh, I think it's great,” 90-year-old Jack Gilderman, a resident of Garden Plaza said. “It's a lot of fun after being cooped up for so long.”

Brandie Thomson of Treasure Valley Hospice and Roy Gilbert of Red Rock Pharmacy are part of the group that made this experience possible.

“I actually got tagged on Facebook because another facility in Kentucky did this," Thomson said. "I was tagged on this post saying, 'Brandi, you need to do this in our community!'”

The pandemic has been tough on all of us, but imagine being in one of our care facilities. Visits have been restricted,...

Posted by Maggie O'Mara on Sunday, September 13, 2020

Thomson posted on her Facebook page Idaho Healthcare Share asking for help from the community to make the pond happen. Gilbert saw the post and got in touch with her.

“Roy stepped up to the plate," Thomson said. "He ran with it and got all the materials donated, he called Jim Schwartz from Schwartz Fishing Pond in Parma and got the fish donated. We made it happen in two weeks, from the time I posted it, to the time we went out on our first-day fishing.”

Gilbert worked to get the fish, troughs, bait and other supplies donated. Sherri Hix, recreation director of Garden Plaza at Valley View, was thrilled to have this opportunity.

“With COVID-19, our residents have been so limited. We haven’t been able to do a lot of activities in order to keep them safe,” Hix said. “Today really gave them the opportunity to case their troubles away and just fish for the day.”

84-year-old Jackie Waldran also lives at Garden Plaza and was glad to have an opportunity to spend the day outside.

“It's really nice to have something to come out to because we've been in our rooms a long time,” Waldran said. “I mean, we haven't been able to do things and we've been sort of been locked away for safety reasons.”

Thompson and Gilbert said the whole experience has been incredible for everyone involved. This fishing adventure has been such a huge hit at facilities around the Treasure Valley they plan to keep it going.

“Oh my gosh, it's been so fun to see the smiles on everybody's face,” Thomson said. “Then to hear the stories of fishing with grandma and grandpa, and all the places where they have fished, and what their favorite fish is to eat. We’ve been hearing a lot of great stories since we started doing this.”

“It's brought a lot of good memories back for our memory care patients,” Gilbert said.

The volunteers raised some money with the help of a fundraiser and now plan to bring the fishing pond back for the residents in October.

“It gives us all something to look forward to,” Hix said.

Thank You to these wonderful donors and volunteers:

Watch more '7's Hero'

See all of the heartwarming segments in our YouTube playlist here: