Local hospice patient, Verlene McGee, 91, a retired reading specialist for Beecher School, and published author, dreamed of visiting her favorite bookstore, Barnes & Noble, one last time.

Mrs. McGee taught first grade in the Elmira school district for five years before becoming a reading specialist. After completing twenty-three years as an educator, she began writing a column for the Star Gazette as she conducted parenting workshops sponsored by her school district. Experience as a parent and grandparent was the motivating factor in her decision to write Parenting Pearls.

By interviewing parents and grandparents and doing extensive research, a collection of essays were written and pithy statements were compiled based upon what was learned about how parents and their kids interact. Mrs. McGee and her husband, the Reverend Cephus McGee, a retired prison chaplain, live in Elmira. Parenting Pearls is a three-year effort that was one of the most exciting works she has ever attempted.

Verlene McGee had a dream to visit the bookstore and host one last story hour for a group of children, friends, and family. CareFirst and Barnes & Noble partnered to make this happen. Unbeknownst to her, Verlene received a Lifetime Literary Award at this event, with all of the bells and whistles one would hope for in such a celebration.

As reaching patient goals is a integral part of the CareFirst mission, the clinical team got to work on making this dream come true. Mrs. McGee was joined by family, friends, former students, CareFirst staff, Barnes & Noble staff, and others for this very special moment in her life.