Student Helping Seniors Recognized with President’s Service Award
Lebanon Valley College’s Students Helping Seniors club was awarded the President’s Service Award during the Symposium of Inclusive Excellence Jan. 23.
Before keynote speaker Dr. Calvin Sun took to the stage to commence the events for the day, President Lewis E. Thayne announced the recipient of the President’s Service Award: Students Helping Seniors. Club president Annie McClain ’20, vice president Sarah Durham ’19, and secretary/treasurer Kayla Vantassel ’20 accepted the award on behalf of the organization.
“I love being part of this club because we make a direct impact on the lives of the elderly,” McClain said. “It’s such a remarkable feeling to know that you did make an impact on the lives of residents and that they look forward to you coming back.”
The Students Helping Seniors organization was founded in fall 2016 and has already doubled its membership to 60 students, increasing its impact on our local community. What initially started as Seniors Helping Seniors, is now titled Students Helping Seniors (SHS). The organization gives back to the elderly community in the Annville area. Students volunteer their time to play games, make crafts, and build relationships. The organization spends 1–2 hours every other Saturday in retirement homes.
“This club has grown so much, and the best part about it is that we all love to spend time with the elderly,” Durham added.
“Through creative student-developed programs, seniors are engaging socially which research shows can have a direct benefit on both mental and physical health, as well. As these interactions between student and senior unfold, rich intergenerational relationships are being fostered,” said Jen Liedtka, service and volunteerism coordinator.
“In these exchanges, both parties have the opportunity to serve as teacher and student as they gain new perspective and understanding about our world from one another. Sharing stories of lives lived in different times and different places seems to grow us in these valuable ways,” Liedtka added.
The club’s biggest event was Feb. 2, where volunteers put together a carnival for the senior citizen residents. For their upcoming event in April, the club is teaming up with the men’s and women’s tennis teams and other organizations to host the first Mental Illness Awareness Game. In the meantime, the organization will continue to volunteer at retirement and nursing homes.
“Our club consists of students who love to volunteer and spend time with the elderly,” McClain said. “Anyone and everyone is welcome to join!”
If you are looking for a community service opportunity, no matter your year or major, email SHS president Annie McClain at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- Jolie Winemiller ’18 for ENG 430 Feature Writing