St. Dominic Village held a car parade for residents on Thursday, May 21, 2020. (All photos by Cody Duty)

St. Dominic Village throws car parade for senior residents isolated during COVID-19 crisis

The processional allowed friends and family members to have no-contact visits with residents of the nonprofit senior care community

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St. Dominic Village throws car parade for senior residents isolated during COVID-19 crisis

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The sun shone on St. Dominic Village Thursday morning as residents sat along the walkway waving happily to a steady stream of cars filled with their loved ones.

St. Dominic Village is a nonprofit senior care community in the Texas Medical Center that serves more than 600 seniors annually. But in compliance with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the campus has not allowed visitors since March 12 in an effort to protect the health and safety of staff members and residents. The May 21 car parade was the first opportunity in more than two months for families and friends to see their loved ones living in the community.

“The St. Dominic Village parade was everything that we hoped that it would be,” said St. Dominic Village CEO Amy Shields. “Our residents and families have not seen each other in person in 79 days. The parade lifted the spirits of our residents and staff. There were many smiles and tears of joy today. We are so grateful today for the more than 96 cars filled with families, friends, grandchildren, signs, music, pets and most of all, love.”

The parade, which began at 10 a.m., was filled with cars decorated with balloons and signs. Each vehicle held friends and family members gesturing and calling out of windows and sunroofs. All participants practiced social distancing and residents wore masks as well.

“It was very well done and I enjoyed it immensely,” said resident Althea Shackelford, who is in her 80s. “I had an opportunity to see my grandson holding his baby. My son and grandson both took off of work to participate and it just tickled me pink. I know they both enjoyed it too. It was terrific, everyone came to show us love.”

St. Dominic Village, a ministry of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, is a member of the Texas Medical Center and Houston’s only Catholic continuum of care retirement community. The COVID-19 pandemic has been especially tough for seniors living in residential communities such as St. Dominic Village because of the isolation created by additional safety measures. Thursday’s parade will be long remembered as a cheerful reprieve from this era of social distancing.

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