Sandbox – The Joy of Giving

Margaret Higgins, a participant in the Beach Cities Health District Board care management services, with BCHD Board Member Martha Koo. Photo courtesy of BCHD

by Dr. Martha Koo

Board Member

Beach Cities Health District

Every year, the Beach Cities Health District (BCHD) organizes volunteers to deliver holiday gift bags to older adult residents, and residents with disabilities who receive BCHD in-home and care management services. I had the honor and pleasure of delivering a gift bag to Margaret, a Redondo Beach resident.

From the moment Margaret answered the call button to buzz me in her building, her excitement was palpable. She greeted me with a warm, enthusiastic, grandmotherly hug and was beyond grateful for my presence. After Margaret allowed me to admire the hallway holiday decor that she and her neighbors had arranged, she and I shared an hour together, nestled on her sofa, in conversation about her life, health, and family. 

Margaret, rightly so, is a very proud mother and grandmother. I enjoyed seeing amazing woodworking from one son, and hearing all about the academic and employment ventures of all her grandsons. COVID has been challenging for Margaret. She has missed out on a visit to one son and his family who live out of state, and she hopes to be able to visit them soon. Looking into the gift bag, Margaret loved the handmade holiday card and warm blanket. She looked forward to eating the yummy chocolates and working the crossword puzzles. However, the most important gifts were the stories and laughs we shared, and the memories we established.

At 91 years old, and a widow for over a decade, Margaret is determined to remain independent. Yes, she has local family whom she relies on, but her ability to remain healthy in independent living also rests on the support she receives from BCHD. She expressed numerous times how fabulous her current care manager, Brenda, is and how much she benefits from social visits that prevent her from feeling isolated and lonely, from errand support so she doesn’t run out of medications, and from transportation when medical attention is required for wound checks or the occasional arthritic pains.

The adage “It’s better to give than to receive” is a lived experience for all the BCHD staff, not just those who work in care management. Research on the psychology of happiness demonstrates that two significant determinants of happiness are being in relationships with other people and actions that promote meaning and purpose. The holiday gift bag program is just one example of the many ways that BCHD gives to our community residents, with purpose, to promote and maintain well-being.

My visit with Margaret will undoubtedly rank as one of the best gifts I will receive this holiday.

If you or a family member are 60 years or older, or 18 to 59 years old with a disability, and live in Redondo, Hermosa or Manhattan Beach, I encourage you to access the in-home and care management services offered by BCHD. Or, if you would like to experience the joy of giving, in meaningful relationships all year long, please consider becoming a case management volunteer. 

You can learn more at .



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