There’s a very special program underway at Aurora Sinai Medical Center in downtown Milwaukee. It began with 12 enthusiastic young Jewish students at a local synagogue.
“In addition to being the chaplain at Aurora Sinai, I’m also an educator at a synagogue,” explained Chaplain Aggie Goldenholz. “I was challenged to offer a new topic that wasn’t part of the curriculum. The class was called ‘bikur cholim,’ which is Hebrew for the Jewish commandment of visiting the sick.”
Chaplain Aggie was delighted by how engaged her students were.
“After our third class, they asked when they’d get to go to the hospital to visit the sick. I told them children cannot go to the hospital for safety reasons. But I encouraged them to consider how they could help.”
The students decided to create “healing cards” to lift patients’ spirits. They asked Chaplain Aggie to deliver the cards to the patients.
“It was really sweet,” she shared. “The students expressed their belief that they were angels on earth
and that they could play a big role in helping the sick heal. They said they were going to load up every card with so much love that patients would actually feel it.”
An emotional response
Chaplain Aggie brought the students’ cards to the hospital, along with a card made by a 13-year-old student, Cecilia, who assisted her with the class.
“One day, I was called to visit a woman who had recently given birth. She had some complications that required medication, which she refused. She didn’t respond when I knocked on her door.”
After checking with the nurse, Chaplain Aggie knocked again and then opened the door. The patient was completely covered under her blanket.
“I apologized for disturbing her, and as I was leaving, I told her how my students believed they were angels who can help and heal,” she said. “I showed her the cards and said, ‘They told me one of these cards belongs to you.’”
The woman lifted her blanket, reached out and chose a card. When she opened it, she began to cry.
“It happened to be the card that Cecilia made. It was pink with hearts and read, ‘There’s a heart for you in every corner.’ The patient was so touched that a stranger cared about her that she asked the nurse for her medications. She was ready to get help. She wanted to go home and show her children the card and introduce them to their new baby brother.”
Another patient had a similar reaction to receiving a card. The card he chose had an inspirational quote that struck a chord – in his life, he’d made some bad decisions that got him into trouble.
“He had a son who he loved more than anything. He told me he knew he had to make some positive changes and be a better role model,” said Chaplain Aggie. “He got on his knees and prayed to God asking for support and help. He wanted me to thank the children and let them know they really are angels.”
Spreading the love
As the project continued, more people joined in the effort. Parents, teachers and students from other schools started donating handmade cards.
“I was deeply touched. Here were these cards with words spelled wrong and letters backwards, but no one cared. Some of the patients were lonely and sad being away from home. But when they saw their card, everything seemed to transform.”
When the pandemic started, the volunteers made cards for team members too.
“It’s been a joy to give them out,” she shared. “It’s lifted everyone’s spirits.”
You can help too
Chaplain Aggie would love to have new volunteers to make cards for patients.
“Making cards is an act of love. It’s also a fun way to discover your creativity and your desire to make a positive difference. The cards don’t have to be fancy. The message just has to come from the heart.”
If you’d like to get involved, please contact Chaplain Aggie at 414-219-6084 or firstname.lastname@example.org.