Lilliana Tracy, 11, of Bellevue, Iowa, a sixth-grader at Marquette Catholic School, makes regular visits to a local nursing home to cheer up residents and make them feel a little less lonely. Every Christmas, there’s a Christmas tree in her community with the names of people confined to their homes and nursing-home residents. In 2017, Lilliana picked the name of a woman at Mill Valley Nursing Home and visited her throughout the holiday season. “But I wanted to visit her more than just during the Christmas season,” she said, “so I have been visiting her every other month for the last two years.” Lilliana enjoyed the visits so much that she selected the name of another woman at the nursing home the following year, and now visits her as well.
During her visits, Lilliana chats with her new friends, plays games such as Tic-Tac-Toe and Hangman, watches Chicago Cubs baseball games on TV, and plays songs for them on her trumpet. Sometimes she brings her little sister with her. “Now she wants to go with me all the time,” said Lilliana. It’s difficult finding the time outside of school and extracurricular activities for her visits, but “I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be lonely,” she said. “It is a joy for them to get visitors, and it is a joy for me to see them happy.”