Handmade Cards from Children

Special Delivery from D.C. Warms Hearts at HCC

Everyone has a vivid childhood memory of a special visit to their grandparents’ house: warm aromas from grandma’s kitchen, or fishing with grandpa at the pond.

Imagine a child’s excitement over traveling hundreds of miles to visit a relative in faraway state – and the joy of discovering that place together.   

Three siblings with fond memories of visiting their aunt at Butterfield Trail Village returned the favor with an act of kindness that touched the hearts of staff and residents at the BTV Health Care Center.

Siblings David, Eric and Nicole Djiba of Overton, Va., sent a care package to Butterfield this spring with handmade greeting cards, each colorful and decorated, especially for residents at the Health Care Center. 

David, 14, and twins Eric and Nicole, 12, came up with the idea with their mother Sara Holtz, who is the niece of BTV resident Grace Donoho. The family was sheltering in place at home in the D.C. area due to the coronavirus pandemic.

BTV Health Services Director Jay Green said he and staff distributed the cards to residents one-by-one. Each had a handwritten message like, “You’re Amazing” and “You’re so Sweet.”

“To say we were in awe is an understatement,” Green said. “Our residents were so touched. It feels pretty amazing to see support for the people we love and work hard to care for every day.”

In the summer of 2018, Donoho was thrilled to host her niece Sara, the children and other relatives who traveled from Virginia to spent time with their Aunt Grace at her retirement community.

“We toured the entire Village and the gardens on campus and had wonderful meals in the dining room,” Donoho said. “The kids were so excited to have many choices for dessert. We hiked the trail behind Butterfield, and they were so impressed.”

The family explored the region together, visiting Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Pea Ridge and Prairie Grove Military Parks, and the University of Arkansas.

They also made a special visit to Mitzy Kellam, a dear friend of Donoho’s, who is a resident at the BTV Health Care Center.

“I talk about my family to Mitzy, and I wanted her to have the chance to meet them,” Donoho explained. “Prior to their visit, Mitzy spent time with my brother and me when he came to visit.”

Once the family was back home in Virginia that fall, Eric wrote a school essay that said visiting Butterfield and Northwest Arkansas was the highlight of his summer.

Donoho said she was moved when Sara texted her in the spring to relay the children’s plans to make and send the cards to Butterfield.   

“I wasn’t totally surprised,” Donoho said of Sara, who was in the Peace Corps in Tongo, Africa, and returned later to work in Senegal. “Every evening, she and the children spend time together volunteering for the community. As a family, they care and do for others.”

Butterfield Trail Village is currently restricting visitor access to and gatherings on campus during the Covid-19 pandemic. To read BTV’s coronavirus message, please visit butterfieldtrailvillage.org