A ‘salute’ to Libertyville senior for her work with Bear Magic
National Nursing Home Week and Bear Magic at Hillcrest Nursing Center in Round Lake Beach.
Updated: July 2, 2012 8:39AM
A company that makes its living serving the elderly and disabled at home honored a Libertyville woman for her work with Bear Magic in Lake County.
Doreen Lagoni, 82, was the Illinois representative in a national contest for a $5,000 grant from Home Instead, Inc., the franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care network, to the national winner’s nonprofit charity of choice.
Lagoni didn’t win the national prize, but she was honored to be named because she has no idea who nominated her for the prize. “You never know who sees what you do,” she said.
Bear Magic has been around since 1999 and has delivered over 69,000 bears to children and seniors in nursing homes in Lake County. She got a franchise from Good Bears of the World in Toledo, Ohio, after reading about a woman in Woodstock who was giving away bears in McHenry County.
Lagoni gives “pre-loved toys” to foster care agencies and court advocacy groups so they can hand them out to children before they go to court.
“When the child goes into court they have something of comfort to hang onto,” she said. She also delivers brand new bears to area emergency rooms so nurses can hand out the plush toys to scared and sometimes injured children. “It helps calm them down, she said.
“And I don’t forget the forgotten elderly,” she said of her nursing home runs. Often there will be a gathering with drinks and snacks and then she hands out her bears to the seniors. She recently went to Hillcrest Nursing Home in Round Lake and Winchester House in Libertyville, a county run nursing home.
“They are just so happy to have a new friend or toy,” Lagoni said. “I’m sure many give it to their grandchildren, but then it covers two people. That’s always good,” she said.
To purchase new bears, she writes grants and receives funding from local clubs like the Libertyville Sunrise Rotary. “They are always very good to me,” she said.
She has one son who is not married and he supports her work 100 percent. “He helps me do my little thing. It’s quite satisfying,” she said.
“I only get to see the seniors’ faces (when she gives out bears), but I know it makes a nurse’s job easier if they can calm a child down by giving them a bear,” she said. “I can help bring joy to some kids,” she added.
Lagoni is also president of the Lake County Council for Seniors based out of Park Place in Waukegan where she assists seniors with circuit breaker information and other senior issues.
The Salute to Senior Service program was launched this year by the Home Instead Senior Care network to honor seniors’ commitments to their causes and communities. As one of 50 state winners, Lagoni earned a spot in the Salute to Senior Service Wall of Fame on the SalutetoSeniorService.com Web site where her nomination story also has been posted.
“Doreen is a valued member of the community and a senior hero to many,” said President and Chief Operating Officer Jeff Huber of Home Instead, Inc. “She has shown that volunteer opportunities for older adults should not diminish because of age. Seniors such as Doreen are making important contributions to their communities through charities, nonprofit organizations and faith communities,” he said.