Ruby's Residents, Brighter Side

An Arkansas 11-year-old has raised almost $100,000 to help nursing home residents, drawing a national spotlight in the process.

 Both of Ruby Kate Chitsey’s parents work in long-term care and she’s been a frequent visitor to nursing homes during childhood.  Last May, she grabbed a notebook and started chatting with residents at the Harrison Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, in Harrison, AR. Ruby Kate asked everyone what three things they wanted most in the world.  

 Amanda Chitsey, a geriatric nurse practitioner, expected her daughter to unearth outlandish requests, but they were surprisingly all grounded and realistic.

 “The answers were stunning. It made me cry because I had had some of these residents for 18 years,” Chitsey said. “It really brought me to my knees because I had never noticed it.”

 Cathy Abatangle, the administrator at Harrison Rehab, says Ruby Kate has a magical effect on the facility’s residents.

 “She’s a very special little girl,” Abatangle told McKnight’s. “It just lights up their faces. They’re so happy to see her, and she connects with them in a different way than adults do.” 

The mother-daughter duo decided to spread the effort to five nursing homes, launching a  GoFundMe page to pay for the endeavor. In early February, it had raised more than $95,000 and was still rising.