Book of Dreams

Book of Dreams 2018: Readers respond enthusiastically to call for donations

Jim Reego was reading The Sacramento Bee on his laptop when he noticed the Book of Dreams story about a 73-year-old Del Paso woman needing a new recliner so she can get a decent night’s sleep.

Immediately, he turned to his wife, Liz, and said this was a request they needed to fulfill. The Reegos own five La-Z-Boy Home Furnishings and Décor stores in Greater Sacramento and two more in Northern California.

“Part of our mission is to leave a good footprint in our community,” said Liz.

They immediately dispatched their staff to make it happen as quickly as possible. Days later, La-Z-Boy’s customer care and facilities manager Aaron Grace, along with the West Sacramento store manager Erik Fossum and warehouse operator Alicia Bindel, pulled up to Bertha “Hannah” Holliman’s apartment.

They delivered an upholstered gray Pinnacle Platinum recliner with all the bells and whistles. As the furniture store trio maneuvered the chair in place, caretaker Sarah Farris turned to Holliman and said, “look how soft it is … you are going to be in heaven tonight. I can’t wait to put you in it.”

The Reegos are among hundreds of Sacramento Bee readers who responded to this year’s Book of Dreams, the community effort started more than 25 years ago that grants the holiday wishes of those in need.

More than $100,000 has been raised this year for 10 people or organizations that had their “dreams” profiled in The Bee. Money is still coming in and you can still contribute.

In addition to granting Holliman’s wish, readers have helped a local man see clearly for the first time with the gift of a pair of special, high-tech eSight glasses. They also are helping an 11-year-old Afghan immigrant get fees and supplies to attend a summer soccer camp and providing an adaptive tricycle for a 12-year-old girl with cerebral palsy.

They also are kicking in donations for a nonprofit that provides soothing live music for people in hospice care, Ronald McDonald House’s Cart with a Heart program for sick kids’ families, a reading program for disadvantaged children sponsored by My Mother’s Voice, welcome kits for homeless mothers at the Bishop Gallegos Maternity Home, the Good Sense Dogs program that teaches animal kindness to at-risk kids, and new outdoor cages for Gold Country Wildlife Rescue in Auburn.

The Bee will continue collecting money to make sure all will have the same happy holiday that Holliman was able to experience.

Holliman, who speaks with difficulty as a result of a stroke, was overwhelmed when her recliner was delivered and said, “I love it.”

She thanked the La-Z-Boy officials and her God.

“He always comes through,” she said, looking up to her heaven. “I know God gives everything.”

The chair fully reclines. A footrest can be raised or lowered. An element provides heat for 15 minutes at a time, and it also has massage and lift functions.

And if the power goes out while she is sleeping in a reclined position, she won’t feel it. The chair comes equipped with a backup battery. The Laz-Z-Boy crew was impressed with the efforts that Farris puts in to care for her client and the special relationship the two women have.

They gave her a $500 gift certificate to the store, in case she wants to buy something for herself.

“Thank you for all this,” Farris said for her client and herself. “I love Christmas time.”

Holliman’s situation touched many people who contacted the Book of Dreams to donate. Since La-Z-Boy donated the chair, other designated donations will go toward improving her comfort in the daytime. A specialist will evaluate the effectiveness of a motorized wheelchair she uses inside and outside the apartment, and either have it modified or replaced.

Finally, he can see his grandchildren

Joe Marques described the moment he got his sight back.

It was an afternoon two weeks ago when he heard a UPS truck pulling up to his house in Antelope.

“I was out of my bedroom in seconds, tearing to the front door” to sign for the box that held the key to better eyesight.

He ripped open the package. Inside was eSight glasses, a high-tech visor-like tool that encases a high-definition camera that captures images at high speeds and displays them closely to the eyes.

In a few more minutes, he would put the device on and begin seeing after five decades.

He had the moment videotaped and posted to his Facebook page. He wears the glasses every day, and says he is lucky. The unique gift was paid for through donations by Bee readers, and he says he doesn’t take their generosity for granted.

“It amazes me there are people who are willing to donate to someone they don’t even know. It’s great. I can’t thank them enough. “

Marques is ecstatic at everything he sees. Finally, he can read the play scripts for the Christmas program he acts and sings in at Roseville’s Dream Theatre, a performance-arts day program for disabled adults. He can see the music conductor’s wand waving as he and others in the choir sing. And he has always wondered what some of his colleagues at the theater look like, and he is excited to see them up close.

“I’ve worked with him for 15 years and it is really neat to see him seeing others,” said Michelle Wheeler, the theater’s owner/director. “He loves people and loves being a big brother to everyone.”

The 60-year-old has spent a lifetime with poor eyesight due to disease. He lost his left eye sometime after being beaten up in high school. He recently learned of eSight and was deemed an excellent candidate for them.

He said he will continue to master eSight’s features. He has agreed to be part of a study group with eSight, helping the company improve its product. He already gave the representative one idea to “accessorize” the glasses: he glued two plastic eyes on the front, symbolizing his new-found ability to see the world as others do. He looks forward to visiting his doctor in March.

“Honestly, I told my doctor, ‘you are going to put up the eye chart and I’m going to blow it out of the water.’”

He will spend Christmas Day in Southern California where for the first time ever, he will see the faces of his daughter and grandchildren, open presents and take a nighttime stroll through the neighborhood taking in all the Christmas lights.

“It will be amazing,” he said.

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