Holidays come and go and often we forget to do something special for our loved ones.
Not Jesse Hart!
The undefeated super middleweight boxer made a point to honor both of his late grandmothers on Valentine’s Day. Hart, who boxes on March 18 at the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia, spent his holiday with residents of a local nursing home. Then he visited with area youth later in the week.
St. Ignatius Nursing Home and Rehab Center is located on Haverford Road in West Philadelphia. Part of their mission statement reads: “We serve our communities by providing quality care and integrating our essential core values of Dignity of All Persons, Excellence, Community, Stewardship and Concern for the Poor.”
Residents appeared happy and at home at St. Ignatius on Feb. 14. With a beautiful solarium that overlooks the courtyard, residents enjoyed a perfect view of the gorgeous landscaping. They told stories of watching the rain and snow and of wonderful barbecues held when the weather was better.
Hart brought dozens of roses for the residents and spoke with many of them.
Getting the opportunity to meet a 104-year-old female resident was a highlight of the day. When learning that Hart was a professional boxer, she quickly asked if he was ready to get beaten up (by her). This spunky elderly lady was just one of many that left an impact on Hart, who was caught singing some Barry White tunes and dancing with another resident.
One resident (pictured far right) gave Hart a flower and told him it was a lucky flower-her version of a forget-me-not. You could see in her eyes that getting the chance to talk to Hart for just a few minutes brightened her day.
The experience was impactful. Often we see community outreach with children or animals, yet not often with the elderly. Hart, who has a huge heart himself, made sure that this holiday was special for people we tend to forget.
The St. Ignatius staff welcomed Hart and asked him to return after his championship fight March 18 against Dashon Johnson, of Escondido, CA. The residents are looking forward to having him return.
Continuing with his community outreach, Hart visited the Glen Mills Schools, located in Delaware County, to speak with students about staying on the right path.
Coming from North Philadelphia, Hart knows what it is like on the streets. Although he has made the right choices in life to get him where he is today, many of those he grew up with have not been as fortunate.
“I think you just need to find your talent and really push it,” Hart said. “There’s no chosen ones man. Maximize your talent.”
At the end of Hart’s motivational speech to the students he stayed around to sign autographs, talk one-on-one, and take photos. You could see the smiles and wide-eyed youth listening to his every word.
After such a great week within the community, Hart is looking forward to continuing the outreach throughout and beyond this camp.