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Warm Shoulders program helps Arkansas State Hospital patients, and the homeless population

Date: 03/01/2018

At the Arkansas State Hospital (ASH), the Warm Shoulders program is an opportunity for participating patients to serve the community.           

The project gives patients a chance to hand-tie fleece material blankets. The hospital then donates the blankets to Jericho Way Resource Center, which provides assistance to Arkansas’ homeless population.

“We’re happy to assist our guests and ASH’s patients,” said Jericho Way Director Mandy Davis. “It truly is an example of a community effort.”   

When a patient completes a blanket, it’s common for them to hold it high in the air while their fellow-patients stare to get a better look at the accomplishment.

“Everyone gets up and walks over to get a closer look at the blanket,” said Ann Gevock, a social worker at the hospital. “The patients like to cheer each other on. When a blanket is complete, they all get a sense of pride from it.”

But why is Warm Shoulders, launched late last year, so important?

ASH is a psychiatric inpatient facility that provides rehabilitation services to promote recovery in a safe and caring environment. Warm Shoulders helps the hospital fulfill its mission to mentally rehabilitate the patients by helping them think about something positive.           

“It’s very rewarding to see our patients involved with a program that’s for the benefit of someone else,” said ASH Psychology Doctor Rebecca Spohn. “Because our patients have struggles of their own, it’s sometimes a challenge to get them to consider the bigger picture and the suffering some other people in the world are going through.”

In 2017, over half of Arkansas’ homeless population did not have even an occasional place of shelter, according to Our House – a nonprofit that helps near-homeless families, the homeless, and the needy.    

That lifestyle becomes dangerous in the winter because of the cold temperatures. So the blankets come in handy.  

Jericho Way has received nearly 30 blankets from Warm Shoulders. Several Central Arkansas businesses, ASH employees, and individuals have donated money to support the program.

In fact, the blankets have become a hit with a specific group of Jericho Way clients

“A lot of our elderly guests drape the blankets over their legs to stay warm,” Davis said.  

That’s why Warm Shoulders exists, to help patients make a positive impact in society.

“Before starting Warm Shoulders, we were always considering projects for the patients that encouraged volunteerism,” Spohn said.

“It’s a great feeling when I see our patients who often feel out of touch with the community, give back and support humanity,” Gevock says.

If you would like to donate to the Warm Shoulder program call Gevock at (501) 251-6562 .

Arkansas Department
of Human Services
(501) 682-1001

TTY: 1-800-285-1131 or dial 711 for Arkansas Relay Service

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