By Song My Hoang
On Feb. 11, U-ReBloom organized a one-hour visit to the Baptist Retirement Home, an idea inspired by President Ainlay’s wife, Mrs. Judith Ainlay.
U-ReBloom’s goal is to brighten up the lives of the elderly through kind gestures of conversation and gift giving.
This community service event originally consisted of recycling floral and plant centerpieces used at a variety of campus events and delivering them to local nursing homes, senior residencies and hospice facilities.
President Erin Kingsley ’14 and Treasurer Mary Kate Farber ’15 of U-ReBloom has since expanded the organization’s constitution to be focused on spending quality time with local residents.
The participation at U-ReBloom events vary because students are not required to attend every visit.
“It is a casual club because we don’t have many meetings besides the actual events. Generally, if students attend one visit, they will want to go again,” commented Kingsley.
Five students, including Kingsley and Farber, visited the Baptist Retirement Home on Tuesday. Kingsley said that it was exciting to see three new girls who wanted to get involved with the community service program.
Farber stated, “It is actually easier to manage smaller groups for these visits. However, when our visits involve engaging social activities, we prefer to have larger groups because the event becomes more fun.”
U-ReBloom members walked to different rooms at the Baptist Retirement Home and delivered flowers and Valentine cards, which were made by members of Wells House.
U-ReBloom typically holds five to 10 events per term. They have more events during spring term because there are more campus events happening and the weather is nicer.
U-ReBloom has established a long-term connection with the Baptist Retirement Home and the Glendale Nursing Home.
While U-ReBloom usually delivers flowers and cards to the Baptist Retirement Home, it also holds social activities for the Glendale Nursing Home.
Members of U-ReBloom have played Bingo, bowling and basketball with residents of the Glendale Nursing Home.
U-ReBloom sometimes brings student musicians who play piano for the residents of both homes.
Farber mentioned, “We met a women who was a Union alumni on one of our trips. We got to sit down and talk to her about Union. There are always veterans at the homes.”
“Bingo is my favorite activity though. We get to sit at a table with six seniors and they get so competitive.” Farber continued.
U-ReBloom is trying to get in connection with other local senior residencies. Kingsley said, “I want to get involved with the Heritage Home for Women.”
Kingsley plans to create a nail painting theme at the Heritage Home for Women for the next U-ReBloom event.
Some senior residents have family members who visit them and others do not have the same opportunity because their family members do not live nearby.
“My grandma is in a nursing home so I know how much it means to her for me to visit,” noted Farber.
Farber said that she is able to make other residents smile by just striking up a conversation or smiling at the residents when she walks past them. She continued, “It is a rewarding experience to see the warmth you bring to these seniors’ lives”.
Each U-ReBloom visit brings plants, conversations and smiles that connect two generations together.