Her husband tells the story best: “She was calling me three or four times a day. ‘How are you, honey? How’s your day going? Can I do anything for you?’ She obviously needed someone to care for.” Robert Emmitt’s wife, Julie, was experiencing the feelings so many women have after driving the last child off to college. The silence of the empty nest was deafening. There is only one voice and it screams, “What do I do now?”

boomerAt this time Emmitt was the senior pastor for Community Bible Church (CBC), and he encouraged her to get out of the house … go see people! One day while visiting a friend and her hospitalized child, Julie noticed a dark playroom on the floor of the ICU for children. “What happens there?” she asked an attending nurse. Previously, the playroom had been active with adult volunteers spending time with children and siblings, but recently the number of volunteers had grown so small that the playroom was often quiet.

This became Julie’s full house — a mission to turn on the lights of the playroom at North Central Baptist Hospital, 520 Madison Oak Dr., in the area known as Stone Oak. She began by volunteering long hours herself, and soon she showed up daily with more volunteers. When not in the playroom, she brought her smiles, laughter and hope from room to room to the patients and their families. After several years of dedication, Julie has seen the lights of the playroom turned on every day, and it is now officially called Julie’s Play Place.

Women so often need someone or a cause to nurture, whether it is a growing business, employees, students, community politics, grandchildren, family or a volunteer organization. The empty nest should be seen as nothing but a new opportunity; however, there are statistics that reveal many women go into depression when all the chickens fly the coop. In fact, some mothers will insist the first year they need to remain free of commitments in case their children call on them for assistance. There are many excuses in the big world masking fears of rejection and doubt upon seeking employment or places to volunteer. It takes only one step of courage, like Julie made, in order to discover just how many needs exist.

Since her first visit to the hospital, her husband has retired from leadership at CBC and turned the reins over to the new senior pastor, Ed Newton. However, both Emmitts are regular assistants at the hospital and have new families who receive their care and attention every week.

By Pamela Lutrell