Our Leaders in Action program focuses on many hands-on experiences, one being community involvement. On February 9th, 2013 our Leaders in Action students volunteered at a local nursing home called Willow Tree Manor. The students previously participated in a canned food drive, made sick kits for children undergoing chemotherapy, and have been individually donating their time to an organization of their choice throughout the year. We collectively agreed that volunteering at the nursing home would be a way to give back to a unique demographic, one that doesn’t necessarily need our donations, but could benefit from the joy and enthusiasm we bring.
During our time visiting Willow Tree Manor, our students participated in many activities with the residents including playing games such as bingo, cards, Sorry, and Yahtzee and painting the women’s nails. Some other residents simply enjoyed the company of our students, by reading them a story or talking with them. As we know, February tends to be a month focused on appreciation, and as a result of the loving spirit, the students made Valentine’s Day cards for the residents while some residents made cards for their significant others. Luckily, we had the opportunity to view their wholesome smiles when we presented them with their Valentines.
The residents and students had a wonderful time visiting with one another, ending with many of the residents asking when Leaders in Action could return for another visit. We are hoping to provide this volunteer experience again throughout the year to our students. Visiting the residents of Willow Tree Manor was a worthwhile experience for all who attended. We participated in several fun activities with people of a different generation and enjoyed their company while we learned about their life experiences.
(Sarah Nowicki is an AmeriCorps VISTA at FLOC’s Outdoor Education Center).