William Chambers and Ceceley Chambers
William Chambers’ mother, Ceceley, is an interfaith chaplain who has provided spiritual support to seniors and hospice patients suffering from memory loss and dementia. Her work involves talking with people about their faith, listening to their stories, and praying with them — sometimes up to ten times a day.
Last year William, 9, went to work with his mother while she was visiting with residents of the Boston-area Hebrew Rehabilitation Center. Ceceley knew that many of the residents liked having children around, and they were thrilled to have William there.
At first William was afraid to go to the center, but his experience there left him pleasantly surprised. Among the residents he spent time with was a woman with end-stage Alzheimer’s disease who carried a baby doll with her that she treated like a real child. This didn’t faze William who told his mother, “I think people are free to think whatever they want to think.”
Since his initial visit, William has returned to work with his mother several more times. While Ceceley finds it difficult to say goodbye to the residents at the end of the day, they have taught her the “importance of being present, and the beauty of just little small moments.” William says that his time going to work with his mother has changed how he sees things as well: “They made me think, you should enjoy life as much as you can cause it doesn’t happen forever.”
They came to StoryCorps to discuss the affect Ceceley’s work has had on them both.
[Of the many residents Ceceley has counseled, she felt particularly connected to one man who would sing her love songs and tell her dirty jokes. Listen below to hear one of the love songs.]
Originally aired September 2, 2016, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Above photo of William and Ceceley courtesy of Ceceley Chambers.
Aja David, Kai Leigh Harriott and Tonya David
Fourteen-year-old Kai Leigh Harriott is paralyzed from the chest down, the result of a stray bullet that hit her when she was three.
She was sitting outside on her porch in Dorchester, Massachusetts, with her older sister, Aja David, who was babysitting at the time.
The family is still dealing with the aftermath of the shooting a decade later.
Two years after Kai was shot, the family appeared at the shooter’s court hearing. In the below audio, Kai (center), Aja (left), and their mother, Tonya David (right), remember what was said on the stand.
Originally aired July 11, 2014, on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Ricardo Pitts-Wiley and Jonathan T.M. Pitts-Wiley
In 1968, following the order to desegregate the public schools, Ricardo Pitts-Wiley was bused to a predominately white school. He tells his son Johnathan T.M. Pitts-Wiley about the opportunities it afforded him and how that year changed his life.
Originally aired August 31, 2007, on NPR’s Morning Edition.