NORMAN — When you visit with Mistie Jensen for a while, you notice the word blessed comes up often. It's because that's the way this mother of six from Purcell feels about her husband, Monty, their blended family and life in general.
“A real blessing” is also how Jensen described being nominated for the J.D. McCarty Center therapy department's outpatient family Christmas project.
For the past six years, the therapists at the McCarty Center have organized Christmas boxes for outpatient families who were struggling a bit. During this time, they have helped more than 40 families. This year they helped nine families who were nominated by hospital staff for the project.
“Six years ago, we saw a family in need and decided to help,” said speech-language pathologist Chrissy Hancock. “From that one family, the tradition has just grown.”
The boxes contain food for a Christmas dinner, toys, toiletries, books, mittens, gloves and hats.
Monty and Mistie Jensen's blended family of six, ranging in ages from 7 to 14, includes four children with special needs who receive services at the McCarty Center.
“We've been coming to the McCarty Center for about a year,” Mistie Jensen said. “We came because of our daughter Fay. We wanted something better for her. We wanted to improve her communication and skills for daily living.”
Hancock said the outpatient Christmas project demonstrates how closely tied the therapists are to the patients and families.
“We may not have a lot,” Jensen said, “but we have a lot to be thankful for. Getting this Christmas box is a blessing and it makes our family feel special.”
The J.D. McCarty Center treats children with developmental disabilities from birth to age 21. Founded in 1946, it provides the physical, occupational, speech and language therapy children need to reach their highest level of functionality and independence.
The McCarty Center is the only hospital of its kind in Oklahoma and last year saw children from 59 of Oklahoma's 77 counties. For more information, go www.jdmc.org.
Greg Gaston is director of marketing for the J.D. McCarty Center.