Philadelphia senior with intellectual disability gets birthday party of his dreams

Matteo Iadonisi Image
Thursday, November 4, 2021
Philadelphia senior gets birthday party of his dreams
67-year-old Jack Marshall may have no immediate family, but his community stepped in to celebrate his birthday.

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "When it comes to home care, this is what it's about," said Cathy Creevey. "I know the big part is keeping them in their home, making sure they're clean. It's just little things like this. A smile on his face says it all and that's what makes it rewarding."

Creevey, a home health care aide with Bayada Home Health Care, has been practicing for 20 years. It was towards the end of 2019 when she first met John "Jack" Marshall.

At the time, Jack was under the care of his brother, Bill, who was the last of his immediate family. Both men had been diagnosed with intellectual disabilities. Sadly, in the beginning of 2020, Bill passed away from lung cancer. But Jack's life changed even more when the global COVID-19 pandemic began at the same time.

Jack could no longer attend adult day care every day. He was confined to the four walls of his home with no one to interact with except his home aide.

"My two hour-a-day turned into six hours-a-day," said Creevey. "We've been together ever since and it's been a blessing."

The pandemic provided a spotlight on healthcare workers like Creevey. But the praise did not make her job any easier.

"The whole idea is to keep these people at home, keep them with their everyday and routine lives," she said. "Unfortunately, there's such a big shortage when it comes to aides."

Creevey is constantly working to create a sense of normalcy for Jack. But perhaps her greatest challenge arrived just in time for his 67th birthday.

"He just, like, came out of nowhere and says, 'Well, what are we gonna do for my birthday party?'," Creevey recalled. "And I was like, 'Oh, okay.' I didn't have the heart to say no."

She rounded up community members that contribute to Jack's everyday life, ranging from the plumber, the landscaper, and the grocery deliverer.

"He didn't have any brothers and sisters left," said Creevey. "Basically, we didn't think anybody was going to come."

But that wasn't the case. Thanks to her hard work and enthusiasm, the kitchen was full of people celebrating with cake, soda, and pizza.

When Jack was asked what his favorite part of the party was, he said it was the people. He also thinks the party should grow even bigger next year into a block party.

If that's the case, Creevey might have to start planning for next year already.

"People don't realize how hard it is, but I love this job so much," she said. "And I'm telling you, once you walk in, you won't want to walk out."

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