Pumpkins that Mount Pleasant 14-year-old Emma Rohaley pained with the residents at Sweetgrass Court Memory Care.

Volunteer with the elderly

In my Health class at Wando High School, we are required to volunteer with an organization. My teacher is Coach Champ and I love her class. The volunteering I participated in was going to an assisted living community in Mount Pleasant called Sweetgrass Court Memory Care. My mom and I went to the pumpkin patch and bought 40 pumpkins to paint with the residents. When we got to the facility the Activity Director, Tiffany Bennett, had everyone waiting at a table. I handed out the pumpkins for the residents to paint. Most every resident participated in the activity, if not, we would help them. Several caregivers who work at Sweetgrass Court joined in the painting as well.

While we painted pumpkins, we also listened to my papa’s playlist we made after he passed away. These were some of his favorite songs like “Build me Up Buttercup,” “ Yakety Yak,” “My Girl” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry.” Some residents’ favorite singers are Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Fats Domino and Aretha Franklin. Seeing their faces light up and sparkle with joy was the best part. When they listen to music, it reminds them when they were my age and it brings them back to those days and the conversations start flowing.

I think it’s so rewarding to spend time with older people who may be lonely or have dementia. They have so many stories and wisdom to give us teenagers. Whenever an elderly person is connected with a young person there is immediate joy in their face. These residents were smiling ear to ear the whole time I was there. When we finished our painting, I didn’t want to leave because they made me feel so good.

I think all youth should visit a senior community at least once. Whether you go do an activity with them or just go for visit, you will make someone’s day. I started going to nursing homes with my mom around 8-years-old. My mom has encouraged my brothers and me to visit with her because she says we have so much to learn from our elders. You really have to go to understand how impactful this experience can be for you too.

Emma Rohaley, age 14

Mount Pleasant