Mikhail Watkins, left, with his friend and the snow

Mikhail Watkins has been a certified nursing assistant at Life Care Center of Kona, Hawaii, for just under a year now.


He takes great pride in bringing a smile to our residents’ faces. He will often tell them a joke, compliment them on their appearance or escort them on wheelchair strolls around the facility for a change of scenery/stimulation.


On New Year’s Eve, Watkins, along with his girlfriend and two other friends, planned on watching the sunrise on top of Mauna Kea. They got to the Mauna Kea road around 3:30 a.m., but it was closed due to weather conditions. They waited. Finally, around 9 a.m., the road opened.


They, along with several other trucks, rode to the summit of Mauna Kea. It was about 26 degrees. That’s cold, considering we live in a steady climate of between 80-92 degrees.


They rode their boogie boards down the smaller slopes, threw a few snowballs at each other, and once they had their fill of the snow, they thought, “When do you think our residents played with snow or were up here on top of Mauna Kea? Either way, it’s been a while for most.”


So Watkins and his friends took out their shovels and filled the bed of the truck with fresh snow. It took some effort, and they covered the load with a tarp to help protect it from the sun as they made their descent toward sea level. They drove up to Life Care Center of Kona with their covered load.


Watkins asked the CNAs working if they would escort the residents outside as he had a surprise. A few residents seated outside were looking at the large covered load with curiosity.


The tarp came off, and the white snow glistened in the sunlight. They shoveled the snow out of the truck and made a bowl of snow so the residents could touch it and make a few snowballs.


Watkins and his friends made a few snowmen. The residents laughed as associates threw a few snowballs at each other. The residents had such big smiles on their faces. For some, it was a first-time experience, while for others it brought back memories of days gone by.

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