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Gerontology Club provides companionship to older adults in South Bend

| Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Gerontology Club, a service-based club at Saint Mary’s, works to provide older adults with companionship.

In an effort to give back to the greater South Bend community, Gerontology Club members volunteer at Healthwin Specialized Care Facility, a nursing home close to the College’s campus.

Katie Jackson, a junior and vice president of the Gerontology Club, said their mission is to improve the lives of seniors in the area.

Gerontology Club hosts weekly volunteer events in addition to larger, less-frequent events. Jackson said the weekly visits consist of activities ranging from sharing a meal with the residents, playing Bingo or giving manicures to simply having conversations with the residents.

A popular weekly activity is assisting with the music and memory program, Jackson said.

“Each of the residents in the dementia ward has an assigned iPod,” she said. ‘You can check out an iPod and listen to music with them. This helps them reminisce and unlock memories that they wouldn’t have access to normally.”

The annual events include a senior prom, a night dedicated to dressing up and community building and Valentine’s Day card making. Additionally, the club hosts annual holiday parties at the nursing home for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The events have a positive impact on both volunteers and residents alike, Jackson said.

“I love knowing that I’m making a difference in these people’s lives like some don’t really get too many visitors,” Jackson said. “Everyone needs human contact, so it’s really nice to be able to provide that for somebody.”

While the club is open to students of all majors, Jackson sees a large draw from communicative sciences and disorders, nursing and psychology majors. The club is designed to support the gerontology minor, Jackson said.

Katherine Weese, a senior and the treasurer of Gerontology Club, said she wants to increase awareness and participation of the group.

“My goal for the year is to have more people commit some more hours during the year and have more people go there,” she said.

There is no minimum time commitment to be involved with the club. An hour requirement has been discussed and may be implemented in the future, Weese said.

“For the time being, we like to have it not as strict and committal so that people aren’t scared off from joining or things like that,” she said.

Students hoping to get involved with the club are encouraged to reach out to the club’s officers to get more information.

“My favorite part of being involved with the club is spending time with the residents,” Weese said. “They’re so nice, and they always have great stories to tell.”

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About Mia Marroquin

Mia Marroquin is a rising senior Communication Studies major at Saint Mary’s. Currently serving as Saint Mary’s News Editor, she hails from Holland, Michigan and is an 80’s movie fanatic. Follow Mia on Twitter @_miamarroquin

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