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A little more than a month before the pandemic became widespread, a new way to provide care and comfort to Hosparus Health’s patients came about through volunteer Sally McMahon and St. Paul United Methodist Church’s prayer bead ministry.

Sally contacted volunteer services, and offered to share the unique creations that she and her group have been making since 2017. Made in the Protestant Prayer Bead tradition, included with each set is a simple guide. The beads are intended for anyone to use in prayer or meditation.

Like many of our volunteers and supporters, Sally and her group co-chair, Kim Smith, have a personal connection with Hosparus Health’s services. While in our care in 2004, Sally’s mother-in-law received a care blanket from a volunteer. The blanket provided comfort to her mother-in-law, and helped her create special moments with Sally’s young daughter.

When Kim’s mother passed away from Alzheimer’s disease in 2018, our care team helped her family through the difficult time. Kim says that after her mother died, finding the prayer bead group in the church bulletin felt like a gift from God.

Sally taught Kim about making prayer beads and continues to lead the group, encouraging others in a mix of craft, meditation and socialization. The group has expanded over time, with Sally leading 10 to 12 regulars on the third Wednesday evening of the month, and Kim leading a slightly smaller group after the first Sunday church service.

The group provides prayer beads for church pastors and chaplains to take on hospital and home-bound visits. Beads are given to new St. Paul members, and they are donated to the Ronald McDonald House for the families staying there. Individuals dealing with grief or special circumstances have received them. Sally estimates that since the group started, somewhere around 500 sets have been given.

Sally and Kim both have stories of how the beads have touched those who have received them. Kim’s mother-in-law remarked how much she loves having hers hang by her bed, giving her a sense of calm and comfort.

Sally knows of a prayer bead recipient who says they serve as a visual reminder of God’s love. Another friend said that they help focus her distracted mind during prayer. Church members often comment on the blessing of giving them to others in need.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the group has not been able to meet in person. Sally and Kim continue to make beads at home and have coordinated a delivery of them to Hosparus Health’s Louisville office, as well as a porch pick-up.

The donated prayer beads were provided to our chaplains to deliver to patients at home before those visits were limited, and have gone to our Inpatient Care Center in recent weeks. Before in-person visits were halted, a volunteer used the prayer beads as an offering to break the ice with a new patient wary of visitors. Hosparus Health staff have received prayer beads as comfort for the services they are providing during the crisis.

The St. Paul group gets much of their material from donations and jewelry from church members. They are always in need of beads, crosses and beaded jewelry (broken is fine).

If you’d like to contribute material, contact Sally directly at To learn more about the bead making group, click here.

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