“Paying it forward” at Peppi’s House

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Naomi Johnson and Kelsey Ingerson

Sometimes a simple act of paying it forward makes all the difference in the world.  There’s an ongoing act of kindness at Peppi’s House, thanks to a pair of teenagers with big hearts, a project to do, and the support of their church behind them.  Their inspiration is the phenomenal work done at TMC Hospice.

Naomi Johnson and Kelsey Ingerson are freshmen at Tanque Verde High School.  The 14 year olds also attend Tanque Verde Lutheran Church.  They had to come up with a community service project as part of their youth group confirmation class, and knew right away they wanted to help Peppi’s House.  Naomi’s grandmother spent time there last August.  Many prayers were answered as she left the inpatient unit and began hospice home care through TMC but was then transferred out of hospice to pursue a more aggressive treatment.   These days, she is doing okay. 

But Naomi was so impressed by the care her beloved grandma received that she felt compelled to give back.  “Everybody was so caring, and made sure we were all very comfortable.  The nurses would take the time to ask us how we were doing.  They would ask us how our day was, and if they could do anything to help us.  It was nice connecting with them.  They helped give us peace of mind.  My grandmother loved a lot of the people there,” she says. 

Kelsey’s grandmother also received hospice care before passing away.

For their project, the girls decided to ask congregants of their church to donate items that would comfort hospice patients.  They set up a basket, put a paragraph in the newsletter, and were amazed by what happened over the next few weeks.  The basket was overflowing with things like pajamas, soaps, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, tissues, even candy.  “It was a lot more than we expected,” says Kelsey.

The teens are working with hospice social workers to create customized baskets out of the donations they collect.  “They’re going to call us and tell us what a patient needs, and then we’ll make a basket specifically for that person,” Naomi explains.

“I think these baskets will really brighten the spirits of these patients and their families.  It makes me feel really good to know that we’re helping people who are going through such a difficult time,” says Kelsey.

The project was welcomed with open arms by TMC Hospice.  “We are so touched by what these young women have done for our patients at Peppi’s House.  Often people come to us after days or weeks in the hospital and are without anything nice to call their own,” says Nancy Franklin-Hicks, TMC Hospice in-patient unit social worker.  “Last week, we gave a set of fuzzy warm pajamas to a woman on the unit who was using a hospital gown.  She was so touched, and started crying.  When I told her about Naomi and Kelsey’s project to provide comfort items to people at Peppi’s, she said, ‘They are the type of granddaughters one would hope for.’”

The girls plan on collecting and distributing donations long after their project is officially over.  They hope to continue their work for the rest of their time in high school.


  1. This is so beautiful! Way to go girls!

  2. very amazing young ladies

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