97-year-old gets dream come true

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ROSWELL, Ga. – It’s not often someone gets to live their lifelong dream, but 97-year-old Willie Vowell got her wish to visit Israel. Sort of.

At a surprise ceremony July 24, Vowell was greeted by friends and family as well as caretakers from her home, Arbor Terrace of Marietta, as she was transported to the Jewish state, as least in part. Given the tensions currently in the area, a trip to Israel was out of the question. Instead, they brought Israel to Vowell.

This was all done through the help of Second Wind Dreams, a local group dedicated to making wishes come true for seniors.

“Making a dream come true isn’t rocket science,” said P.K. Beville, founder of Second Wind Dreams. “We can’t bring her to Israel, but we can bring Israel to her.”

Through gifts, Vowell was able to take in the sights, sounds and smells of the Middle East.

Videos, travelogues, prayers and songs were given to Vowell by her well-wishers at a surprise wish-giving ceremony at Roswell’s Cara Vita Home Care, which specializes in Alzheimer’s care.

Tom and Lisa Sommer, who have visited Israel 10 times and are members of Roswell’s Temple Beth Hallel, sang a prayer for Vowell, blessing the food and drink.

“She brightens our day,” said Susan Robins of Arbor Terrace. “What a wonderful gift it is to share their lives with us.”

Robins and the staff at Arbor Terrace gave Vowell videos of Israel and documentaries of places to visit there.

Vowell said she was grateful for the gifts and the well-wishers who made her wish come true.

“I love the Lord and I love people. That’s my secret,” said Vowell. “That’s what he did. Love people.”

Second Wind Dreams was formed in 1997. Its name is derived from a novel of the same name by Beville, a geriatric specialist who wrote about the wonderful, colorful and sometimes hysterical people who live and work in nursing homes.

Second Wind Dreams aims to provide a bucket list for seniors before they succumb to Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Beville said helping the elderly was as important as it was fulfilling.

“They are some of the most special people in the world today,” Beville said. “Many have the dream to serve others, no matter their age.”

And it is up to helpers such as Second Wind Dreams to help them for a change.

For more information, visit Second Wind Dreams at www.secondwind.org.

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