Even though Leila Hall didn't get to spend Mother's Day with family, she said all the special attention she received made it a holiday worth remembering.
The 70-year-old Texas native and a resident at The Victorian retirement home in Ventura was one of more than 200 residents who got a visit and a flower from a group of 4H members Sunday.
"They knew exactly what I like," Hall said in a warm Texas drawl as she admired the waxen petals of a pink tulip. "These are my favorite. They're just so pretty, and boy do they smell good."
About 20 girls from the Loma Vista 4H Club passed out flowers with cards that read "I Remember Mama" to all the elderly women residents at The Victorian and Victoria Care Center.
Organized by the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program of Ventura County, the Mother's Day event brought together more than 300 volunteers to distribute flowers to more than 4,000 women living in retirement homes and assisted-care facilities throughout the county. Established in 1984 as part of the Older Americans Act, the ombudsman program acts as a watchdog to ensure that such facilities provide quality care for their residents.
Pamela Schuman, executive director for the Ventura program, organized the Mother's Day event because she saw it as an opportunity to make a difference.
"We're here to make sure these people have a high standard of living and doing something like this, although it might seem small, is what we're here to do," Schuman said. "A lot of these people don't have anyone who comes to visit, so getting a flower on Mother's Day means a lot to them."
Although the event was organized for the women at assisted-care facilities, those who passed out the flowers also benefited. "I think the best part of this is that it shows that people care," said 12-year-old Robin Filbry. "I like being a part of that and it makes me feel good."
For more than two hours, Robin and the other 4Hers passed out flowers and chatted with residents. While some residents turned down the pastel-colored gifts, most were thrilled by the unexpected gesture.
"It's everything Mother's Day is supposed to be about--like love, compassion, caring and warmth," said Lynne Miller, activities director at The Victorian. "Just look at how it brings a sparkle to everyone's eye."
"I really have to say that this was so wonderful and nice," Hall said. "It sure made the day a little bit better."