Dreams to Smiles program a big hit

Dyan Isaacson checks out the view from the drivers seat. Photo by Laurie Parish

Cascade Park Communities in Tacoma is in the business of making dreams come true for their residents.

The Dreams to Smiles program was the brainchild of Gary Dewhirst, a consultant to Cascade Park.  Once the folks at both Cascade Park Vista and Cascade Park Gardens heard about it, they couldn’t wait to get on board and help their residents work through their very own bucket list.

Laurie Parish, Activities Coordinator at Cascade Park Gardens, was in charge of setting up a special day for resident Dyan Isaacson, who wanted to visit a local fire station, sit in the truck and talk to the firemen. Her dream came true in April and Isaacson said it was wonderful.

“The firemen took the time to show me around and I got to sit in the fire truck and wear a fire hat,” she said enthusiastically, adding “I’ll remember that for a long time.”
Parish went along for Isaacson’s trip to the fire station and said it was a day she’ll never forget.

“There are no words,” she said. “When she put that smile on her face and we were taking pictures, I thought this is why we do what we do. I’ll never forget that smile.”
Becky Donkersley, Activities Coordinator at Cascade Park Vista, said she asked her residents what they had on their bucket list and received about fifty-five responses.
Thelma Bridges and Ethel Walker said they would really enjoy some southern cooking. They listed red beans and rice, biscuits and fried chicken as their favorites so they were delivered to Popeyes on 6th Avenue in Tacoma. Employees at Popeyes treated them like royalty as they enjoyed a huge luncheon and even took home a bag of food for dinner that night.

“The best part was being able to go along with them,” said Donkersley, adding the two ladies had fun talking about their memories of eating southern cooking when they were growing up.

Another dream fulfilled was a trip to a Rainier’s baseball game, but first the staff had to raise some money.

Someone uncovered an old compressor in the basement of the facility and Donkersley put it on Craig’s list.

“A man came a few times and looked at it and finally bought it and donated the money to the fund in honor of his father,” said Donkersley, adding, “I said great! We will make sure the baseball game gets to honor your dad.”

Donkersley and her staff loaded up thirteen residents and treated them to a Rainier’s baseball game where they enjoyed hot dogs, chips and watching the team win the game.
To fund this great new program they hold garage sales and sell items on Craig’s list. Long term plans include creating a celebrity quilt to auction off as well. The ideas just keep coming for ways to raise money to make their residents smile.

Cascade Park Communities is continuing to raise funds to be able to fulfill dreams for their residents.  Donations can be sent to Cascade Park Vista/Dreams to Smiles; attn.: Fred Wahlgren; 242 St. Helens; Tacoma, WA 98402.