Ten years ago, a 15-year-old high school student in California offered a “dream” to an older person in hospice care.
The story was published in a local newspaper and area schools promptly contacted Caitlin Crommett asking how they could start their own groups.
There are now DreamCatchers chapters in 30 states, including one in Tucson.
On Tuesday, 85-year-old Bob Betts, who is in hospice care at The Villas in Green Valley, was granted his dream— to hear a jazz band and enjoy an Italian dinner with chocolate cake for dessert.
Coordinating with Harmony Hospice in Tucson, four members of DreamCatchers from University High School and four musicians from Rincon and University High Schools in Tucson brought Betts’ dreams to life.
During 40 minutes of live jazz, Betts clapped constantly. He didn’t speak, but the pleasure was in his eyes. His wife, Sharon, sat next to him.
The musicians played in sync like experienced professionals, and each walked over to meet and personally shake Betts’ hand.
“He was thrilled with it,” Sharon said later. “He loved the music and the attention. He was much more alive than I’ve seen him in a long time.”
Dominick’s restaurant in Green Valley donated trays of meatballs and spaghetti, two trays of pastas with sauce and a tray of asparagus. It was enough to feed Betts, his wife, the musicians, four other members of DreamCatchers and several residents at The Villas.
DreamCatchers member Ines DeBacker baked a dark-chocolate layer cake to complete Betts’ dream.
Kristin Jung, founder and president of University High Schools’ chapter of DreamCatchers, said she has more plans to fulfill dreams for hospice patients.
“A friend told me about DreamCatchers,” she said. “She knew I want to be a doctor.”
Her chapter has granted three other dreams. One man in hospice wanted to see vintage cars and a few were brought to him. A woman wished for a whole cooked lobster and it was brought to the bedridden patient, who showed her joy with a huge ear-to-ear smile. One patient wanted to see a Wild West movie set, and Jung and her team made it happen.
She said it was the first time the band performed at a hospice and told her they enjoyed it, she said. They want to be part of any future efforts.
Crommet said experiences provide the chance for students and young people to meet and interact with elderly hospice patients. It’s an interaction rarely experienced in today’s times.
“We intend to destigmatize hospice, death and dying by exposing young people early in life and showing them how wonderful hospice can be for people nearing the end of their lives,” she said.
“Some have commented on the young people that helped their dream to come true, saying it renewed their faith in the young people of our world today, and that they had a great time getting to spend time with them and tell them their stories,” she added.
Contact Green Valley News freelance reporter Ellen Sussman at email@example.com.