NORWOOD, Mass. (WPRI) ─ It was a simple idea that sprung from a family tragedy.
About four years ago, Nick Georgette’s high school psychology class project led to a surprise Christmas gift for his dad’s nursing home roommate.
“He told us this is the only gift I’ve gotten for Christmas in the past 20 years,” Georgette said. “It was a very emotional moment giving that first blanket and I knew I had to do it again.”
Richard Georgette was diagnosed with dementia, then Alzheimer’s when he was 57 years old.
“My dad was my best friend,” his son said. “He was pretty young to get Alzheimer’s.”
When Georgette visited his dad at that Norwood nursing home, he often noticed how lonely many other residents were.
“Sometimes no one comes,” Georgette said. “I wanted them to feel like they have somebody and they’re cared for and loved.”
Georgette, now a UMass Amherst junior, founded “Project Remember Me” soon after giving away that first blanket, hoping to ease that loneliness.
He recently returned to his dad’s nursing home with a team of volunteers to hand out dozens of donated, brand-new blankets.
“This is for you,” Georgette said to one resident. “I want you to know we care about you.”
Each one is tucked in a bag with a note from others who care, even if they’re too young to hand out the gifts.
“These are from Providence,” Georgette said as he opened a stash of handmade cards.
“These are amazing. The kids [who made them] are 5 years old, writing to people in nursing homes.”
Georgette’s father lost his battle with Alzheimer’s 18 months ago at the age of 64.
But his “best friend” has no doubt he is still around, everywhere Project Remember Me goes.
“I see my dad in each and every one of the residents and I know that I have to care for them,” Georgette said. “They need this.”
Georgette said the pain of losing his dad is still fresh, but he remains determined to continue and grow his non-profit, remembering what he was taught growing up.
“He was very big on being a people person,” Georgette said. “He was joyful of life and wanted me to be the same way.”
About 50 bagged blankets that cover half the floor of a room in the Warwick home of Georgette’s mom will be delivered to a Rhode Island nursing home in about four weeks.
From there, Georgette promises Project Remember Me will continue collecting fresh, donated blankets with a goal to someday give them away to nursing home residents across the country.
“There’s a real need for this,” he said.