Caitlin got the idea last year, after watching the movie “Patch Adams.” In it, Robin Williams plays a doctor who is all about making his patients happy. In one scene, he fills a wading pool with spaghetti for a dying woman to jump into. After thinking about the movie for a few weeks, Caitlin told her parents she wanted to try and grant the wishes of elderly people in hospice care. They weren’t surprised.
Caitlin’s parents had put away enough money to send her to JSerra, a Catholic high school in San Juan Capistrano. The cost is about $12,000 a year. However, Caitlin wanted to go to Tesoro High in Rancho Santa Margarita, where her friends were going. This meant that there was an extra $48,000.
Caitlin’s parents agreed to give her some of that money to grant wishes until she could raise some funds on her own. Caitlin came up with a name: Dream Catchers. She then came up with a make-a-wish-style form that she began handing out this summer to Hospice Care of the West nurses, asking that they pass them on to patients and their families.
The first form she got back was from the wife of a man named Bernie Klein. He was in a wheelchair and could no longer speak, but was aware of everything around him. Bernie had sailed his whole life, and his wife wrote that it would be so great to see him out sailing on the ocean one last time. Caitlin chartered the schooner Curlew out of Dana Point Harbor for $600. Bernie’s family insisted she come along. She made ham sandwiches for everyone and served them herself.
Over the summer, Caitlin visited a hospice patient named Pat Wahlstrom every Sunday. A social worker had suggested that she help Pat put together a slide show of her world travels to share with other residents at the assisted living home where Pat lived. Caitlin and Pat spent the summer sifting through boxes of slides of Greece, Japan and Russia. Pat would sit in a chair with a remote and click through her projector, telling Caitlin the stories behind each photo that appeared. Caitlin would take notes so that she could later narrate the slide show. They decided to do the entire slide show on Pat’s favorite trip: China. Caitlin made up fliers for the big day. “An armchair tour of China,” they read. “Explore China again with Pat!” Unfortunately, Pat didn’t make it to the showing. But the experience and the timed shared was the true treasure. “She laughed a lot when she told me stories,” Caitlin says. “It was just really great to listen to her.”
Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others, cannot keep it from themselves. -James M. Barrie
To learn more about Dream Catchers, email Caitlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.