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Sherry Adams Dodson, Easton, Kan., began playing the guitar when she was only 10 years old, a skill her father taught her. And though she’s never had any formal training, she’s also learned to play the piano and autoharp, performing at her church and with local groups.

So, when she learned that Saint John Hospital’s recently expanded Senior Behavioral Health Center was looking for someone to provide its patients with the joy of music, she was quick to volunteer.

“Music is especially powerful for the patients in the Senior Behavioral Health Center,” Sherry said. “Many of these patients have Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and dementia. Hearing a familiar song can bring back memories.”

With her guitar and a keyboard, Sherry volunteers to perform for patients once a week, playing everything from old-time rock ‘n roll to bluegrass to gospel.

“I encourage singing, dancing, and talking, and receive varied responses to the music,” Sherry said. “Some patients talk to me and sing. Ambulatory patients also dance. Non-verbal patients smile, laugh, and rock to the beat of the music.”

“We’re excited that Sherry is volunteering to perform for our patients in the Senior Behavioral Health Center,” said Jordan Frost, Volunteer Services Regional Manager for Saint John and Providence Medical Center. “We’d love to have more musicians who would like to volunteer to perform at either hospital,” Frost said.

In the brief time Sherry has been volunteering, she has seen music shift patients’ moods on the unit and relieve stress. “I hope that if I am ever in a similar situation, that someone will take the time to sing to me,” Sherry said. “This is just my way of paying it forward. It makes me happy to make someone else happy!”

If you would like to share your musical talents and time with patients at Saint John Hospital or Providence Medical Center, contact Frost at 913-596-4195.