A Caring Heart Christmas presents cards
 to area nursing homes; residents delighted


December 22, 2007 .  Dyersburg State Gazette

Wendell and Jane Wiley are no strangers to nursing homes.

For years, they've visited residents and understand the impact that can have.

But they didn't truly understand the true impact until a few months ago.

In November 2005, the Wileys, who live in Halls, were in a near-fatal car accident. Jane's back was broken and Wendell suffered broken ribs and, as a result of the airbag's release, a heart attack. Almost a year later, their son spent four weeks in ICU after having a cerebral hemorrhage. The day after his hospital release, they learned Wendell has aggressive pancreatic cancer.

Despite their own traumas, the Wileys made it a point to continue their nursing home visits, going each time they had their own doctor or hospital appointments. For Jane, it was the continuation of a ministry she'd unknowingly started years earlier.

A Caring Heart Christmas provided 317 Christmas cards for residents of Wesley at Dyersburg Nursing Care, Dyersburg Manor and Lauderdale Community Living Center in Ripley. Ministry founders Wendell and Jane Wiley delivered the cards on Dec. 3 to Wesley activity director JoAnn Parker and Dyersburg Manor activities personnel Kathy Giles and Lori Cook. Wiley, Giles and Cook examine some of the correspondence.


Hearing impaired, Jane sang in churches through sign language, sitting in the back not to disturb others. One service, a pastor asked her to come to the stage. It went from there and Jane began sharing her sign-language singing at various churches, nursing homes, care centers and with different organizations. She'd even go into the homes of the shut-in or the terminally ill and sign their favorite songs using the CDs of Carolyn Stacy and Kelly Cash.

In 2000, someone brought to her attention that she was providing a ministry. "I had never thought of it that way," she said. The individual said she had a caring heart and Caring Heart Ministry for Special Need Children and Adults began. Her signing grew to the point that she was traveling the United States with it. She also taught sign language to special education students at Lauderdale Middle School.

Jane said their accident, which occurred when they were coming home after a nursing home visit, "slowed me down to be with my husband and son. I've learned so much. The Bible says to be still. You have to have those quiet moments."

She may have slowed down, but she and her husband haven't stopped giving back to others.


In the nursing home visits immediately following their accident, the Wileys visited with as many residents as they could. They soon realized that some residents never get a visitor, much less a card or note. So, they began taking five to 25 cards, letters or encouraging notes to pass out.

"They'd slowly take their hand and run it over the envelope, the card, then open it, taking in every inch like they had a treasure," Jane recalled. "A lot (of nursing home residents) can still read and are sharp as whips. You could just tell what it meant to them. My husband and I looked at each other: I told him I'd do everything I could to make sure every resident got a Christmas card."

That was in October and A Caring Heart Christmas, a part of the non-denominational Caring Heart Ministry, began.


The Wileys started preparing Christmas cards, each signed and hand addressed, with two nursing homes -- Wesley at Dyersburg Nursing Care and Dyersburg Manor -- and a volunteer came on board adding Lauderdale Community Living Center in Ripley.

Word about A Caring Heart Christmas traveled from mouth to mouth. "Quite a few people" from Dyersburg, Gibson County, Shelby County and Lauderdale County "found out about it and realized what we were doing" and assisted by either giving cards or providing handmade ones for the project, Jane said.

On Dec. 3, they delivered a total of 317 cards to the three nursing homes.

"My pastor happened to be (at one of them) when (the cards were) passed out and he said it was like Christmas morning," Jane said.

She witnessed that herself.

"They'd take the card, run their hand over the envelope, then the card, then read it, put it back in the envelope and do it all over again," she said. "Seeing their faces light up when they received that card is a blessing you'd not believe; words can't describe it. I still cry at the memory of it; it's something I'll remember for as long as I live."

She believes it's the same for the residents.

"When your heart is in it and (the residents) know it, it really is a gift of love and they know it. I really think it made some precious memories," she said.

Jane said while "God laid the mantel on (her and her husband) to do (this), we couldn't have done it by ourselves. We thank all of those who contributed. We are so grateful for their help; without them, we couldn't have done it. I feel God led them. This ministry was made possible because of people who showed the residents concern, love and compassion. They have provided a precious memory."


The Wileys hope others will want to provide that precious memory.

Next year, they hope not to just add more nursing homes to A Caring Heart Christmas but to also provide more for the residents.

"Carolyn Mitchell (at Lauderdale Community Living Center) told the volunteer they can always use gifts like chap sticks, tissues and socks for the residents," Jane said. "We want to provide each resident a card and a little something."

That will take a lot of preparation and the Wileys have started by designating an area of their house for donations of cards and items. And this time of year, she noted, is the perfect time to get those Christmas cards as deductions are made.

To make a donation to A Caring Heart Christmas, contact the Wileys at 731-836-9838.

Jane Fisher Wiley, Tech 1965

Halls woman recognized for ministry

October 7, 2009 .  Dyersburg State Gazette

In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." 
-- Matthew 25:40

Jane Wiley of Halls recently received the Angel Award from Grace Broadcasting during
a live, one-hour interview with Tom Mapes at the Grace radio station in Jackson.


Wiley is the founder of Caring Heart Ministries, a program that offers hope and encouragement to children and adults with special needs, the deaf and hearing impaired, the blind and visually impaired, and to residents of area nursing homes and hospitals. Her work reaches into the Dyer County area, where she has been instrumental in providing residents at Highlands of Dyersburg Health and Rehabilitation Center, and Dyersburg Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center with audio Bibles, cassette tape players, large-print Bibles and books, personal visits and cards.

The award's inscription cites Mark 12:31: "In recognition for service given, helping others and fulfilling our Lord's command to 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' - Mark 12:31."

The interview featured appearances, messages and comments from many local residents touched by Wiley's interpretations of inspirational music into sign language or her many gifts to residents of all ages with special needs. Those contributing to the one-hour radio program included Dr. Buck Morton, pastor John Compere, singer Scott Nelson, Highlands Activity Director JoAnn Parker, Dyersburg Manor activity directors Kathy Giles and Lorie Cook, American Cancer Society Hope Lodge of Nashville Director Jocelyn Phillips, Louie Swift of Music Publishing of Nashville, United Methodist Women Organization President Mary Butler, Humboldt First United Methodist Church UMW President Mildred Shanklin and the mother of a special-needs child who learned to communicate with her child through Wiley's efforts.

The Wiley family has seen its own troubled times, but that has not slowed down the generous spirit of Jane Wiley and her ministry. In 2005, she and her husband were both severely injured in an automobile accident, where Wiley broke her back. A few months later, their son, Brad, suffered a near-fatal cerebral hemorrhage, followed by a cancer diagnosis for Wendell Wiley. Throughout their trials, the family has continued to give to those around them.

"I'm much honored and deeply humbled to receive this award," Wiley told the show's radio audience. "This special day was possible because of my husband and the many volunteers and friends that have helped me. ... My desire has been to help the deaf to see the words that are spoken, the silent words that give God all glory, honor and praise."