Mormon “Jollyoligist” Brings Smiles to the Sick and Lonely

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Gaylyn Shoemaker jollyologist
Image via auburn-reporter.com

Bringing smiles to the faces of the sick, lonely, and sad is one of Gaylyn Shoemaker’s greatest joys. Three days a week Shoemaker, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, visits nursing homes, hospitals and convalescent centers wearing goofy costumes and handing out cheerful “prescriptions.”

Some of the prescription doses this “jollyologist” hands out include a bottle of jelly beans with a directions that reads: “For a good dose of jokularity, take a jolly bean and call me in the morning.” In addition to bottles of jelly beans and smarties, she also hands out bubble wrap, telling people to “pop a bubble, sigh a sigh, watch your stress go flying by. If one bubble doesn’t do, try six, or eight, or 22.”

The only jollyologist in Auburn, Washington,  claims she doesn’t sing well, but Shoemaker still graces her “patients” with joyful tunes. Her rendition of “You Are My Sunshine,” which she calls, “Be Your Sunshine” is just  one example of her spreading joy through singing. Shoemaker told the Auburn Reporter that she has always loved visiting the elderly. She explains how she started her quest to bring others joy, saying,

It started out with friends who had life-threatening illnesses, and I had no way to help them, they were too far away. So I came up with this idea of being a jollyologist and I would do it by email everyday.

After some time sending her friends outrageously funny jokes through email, Shoemaker met a girl in a hospital suffering from tumors behind her eyes and ears, and on her brain stem. Shoemaker says that she became this girl’s jollyologist and from there it has grown into what it is today.

Shoemaker explains the joy she gets from this service, saying:

I go out with people thinking I’m serving, and I come back, and I’m the one that has the big lump of love in her heart. I just love it.

For more on Shoemaker and her joyful ministry, visit auburn-reporter.com.

Kylie is a writer at LDS.net and graduate of BYU with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. She grew up in a Chicago suburb where she gained a passion for the Chicago Cubs. She enjoys writing and live event video production.