Hands On - Holly Nicholson

Holly Nicholson's Hands that Heal

As she navigates the narrow streets of a Charlottesville neighborhood, Holly Nicholson shows no signs of anxiety. Even though her smartphone is in plain sight, she does not use the GPS. “I like finding the houses, it’s like putting together a puzzle,” she says. Armed with a rudimentary Meals on Wheels map, Holly plans out her route to the next client.

She stops in front of a small stucco house with a chain-link fence. “Oh I remember this client,” Holly says, “She has a wonderful life story!” Due to her rotating work schedule, Holly drives as a substitute, taking different routes each week. She recalls many of the clients, noting their special character traits and kind hearts.

Holly knocks and enters, quickly resuming the conversation she began last time. She nods and smiles, laughs and responds gently to the client who remembers her well. As Holly delves deeply into the client’s story, her patience is only rivaled by her passion. It’s undeniable that she genuinely enjoys connecting with each client. After we leave the home Holly conveys, “I just love seeing who opens the door each time. It’s an intriguing moment; who is it going to be?”

 Holly’s passion for serving others is vibrantly evident through her vocation as a nurse in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the UVA hospital. She learned to love serving underserved populations on mission trips with her youth group and decided to pursue a future in the medical field. She chose the path of nurse because she likes to be hands on with patients.

Even though her job is tough and challenging, Holly loves to see the amazing progress that children make with the care provided. “Children are resilient,” she says. Since Holly savors working with patients through the many stages of healing, she could see herself working in patient rehabilitation at some point in her future. She also dreams of partaking in medical missions around the globe.

Holly is an explorer. She loves exploring the countryside on her road bike and exploring beauty through her camera lens. She’s passionate about serving others, her faith, being healthy, her family and music. Holly grew up in Charlottesville and loves it here. She says, “I could definitely see myself sticking around.”

With hands that heal, a heart that cares and a mind that dreams, Holly will certainly enrich the Charlottesville community for years to come.

Holly's Photography:  She loves to take and share photos of interesting light and beauty.  "Be gentle with everyone you meet. Be kind to everyone's spirit; you have no idea what healing your light can afford." Grace Gealey | Actress

Holly's Photography: She loves to take and share photos of interesting light and beauty.

"Be gentle with everyone you meet. Be kind to everyone's spirit; you have no idea what healing your light can afford." Grace Gealey | Actress

Hands On - Jean and Wallace Brockman

Jean and Wallace Brockman - Planters of Beauty

As I pull into their driveway, I notice an immensity of greenery. The Brockmans, Jean and Wallace, have a home surrounded by beautiful foliage. It’s a green haven, tucked away in a quiet corner of Charlottesville.

I am greeted at the door by Wallace, whose simple hospitality is comforting. He escorts me to the living room, where I take a seat next to Jean. Immediately, I notice the wall across from me that is packed full of books. Jean has a book open, EF Benson’s Mapp and Lucia. She closes the book and welcomes me with a warm smile.

Our conversation is lighthearted. I ask Wallace about his favorite plant, for which he replies, “Naked ladies, but I can’t remember the botanical name.” I assure him that I won’t pronounce his love for naked ladies, but will instead call the flowers Amaryllis.

I ask if I can circle their property and take pictures of their beautiful gardens. “Of course!” they state, while also informing me that the gardens used to be much more glorious when they had the ability to tend them regularly.

Before I leave, I am afforded a tour of other parts of the home, where Wallace proudly shows me pictures of his children and grandchildren. I also meet the Brockman family feline, who is less than interested in making my acquaintance.

I leave the comfort of the Brockman home, packed full of love and wisdom, and I step out into their soothing gardens, packed full of beauty and life.

Jean grew up in Nashville, Wallace was born in South Carolina. The two met in a chemistry course while attending Vanderbilt University. Both Jean and Wallace possess impressive educational accomplishments; she has a Master’s Degree in Physical Chemistry and Math, while he obtained a PhD in Organic Chemistry.

Life took them to Birmingham, Alabama, where Wallace worked at the Southern Research Institute as a Biological Chemist. He spent his days researching cancer agents. Jean felt a certain freedom in Birmingham, away from everything she used to know.

Jean and Wallace experienced the tensions of Birmingham during the civil rights era. They were displeased with their completely segregated neighborhood but believe that the city became more pleasant after the civil rights actions of 1963.

The Brockmans moved to Charlottesville in 1990 and spent a majority of their time outdoors. They loved to drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline drive. Their love for the outdoors inspired them to create gorgeous gardens on their own property.

Currently, Jean and Wallace enjoy reading, staying abreast of current events, and interacting with Meals on Wheels volunteers.

Hands On - Paul Rabinowitz

Paul Rabinowitz - Midway Manor's Jazz Man

As he travels along the narrow, dimly lit corridors at Midway Manor, Paul Rabinowitz is steady and purposeful. In his right hand he holds a carrier of 10 hot meals; his left hand grasps a carrier containing the boxes of cold food. His focus remains unflappable as he spells out the particularities of each Meals on Wheels client. Paul has been delivering lunches to residents at Midway Manor for 14 years.

Paul has handed lunches to a multitude of clients over the years, yet he greets each one with individualized care and concern. “Mr. Johnson doesn’t like me to knock on the door,” he tells me as his fingers arrange food boxes inside of a plastic grocery bag. Paul checks his delivery sheet and navigates to the next client, who lives at the other end of the building. He doles out a warm smile and generous greeting to everyone we encounter along the way.

When we reach our destination, Paul raps loudly on the door with his knuckles. Mrs. Green opens the door, and Paul shouts, “How are you today?” The resounding conversation remains short, but the connection between the two is evident through the exchange of friendly nods and toothy grins. As the four hands belonging to Paul and Mrs. Green hold tight to her lunch, a single box of simple food bridges together a seemingly unlikely bond.

Born and raised in Charlottesville, Paul left to attend American University and then spent 18 years in Baltimore. He first volunteered with Meals on Wheels in Baltimore, over 30 years ago. Since that time, Paul has held different volunteer positions with several organizations, but he always seems to return to the work at Meals on Wheels.

Now, Paul typically volunteers to deliver meals with MOW of Charlottesville/Albemarle at least three days a week. “It’s rewarding here. It makes me feel good to deliver meals to those who need sustenance,” he states, “I’ve always enjoyed checking in with the clients—laughing and talking with them.”

His commitment to the clients and his willingness to volunteer granted Paul an impressive award: Volunteer of the Year 2014-2015. Apparently, this was not his first volunteer of the year award—he received the same accolade while serving in Baltimore. Paul’s commitment to service is obvious.

Less obvious, though, is Paul’s love of music and poetry. When he is delivering meals, his determined focus comes across as intense and serious, but as soon as he begins talking about the arts, his demeanor becomes smooth and easy, much like his favorite music. Paul is a jazz man. He listens to the sweet sounds of Miles Davis, Chick Corea and George Benson. His music playlist is complemented with other genres as well—classical, blues, and rock and roll. Paul is a connoisseur of melodious notes, sometimes even creating his own on his electric keyboard. He writes poetry as well.

When it comes to the written word, Paul’s favorite authors carry diverse, yet poignant, voices. He can be caught reading Maya Angelou, Kurt Vonnegut and Robert Frost. Not coincidentally, Paul’s life is a reflection of Angelou’s words: “The thing to do, it seems to me, is to prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else's cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God - if they call God at all. I may not dance your dances or speak your language. But be a blessing to somebody. That's what I think.”

Paul has certainly been a rainbow to the homebound residents of Midway Manor.