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The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

The student news site of James Bowie High School

The Dispatch

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Students raise residents spirits with Assisted Living Club

HAND+MADE+CRAFTS%3A+Sophomores+Darby+Kendrick+%28left%29+and+Grace+Hertel+%28right%29+fold%2C+cut%2C+and+create+valentines+day+boxes+for+the+Brookdale+Beckett+Meadows+assisted+living+home.+The+Assisted+Living+Club+have+been+regularly+meeting+with+residents+and+feel+that+their+club+has+created+a+little+family+within+the+home.+
Gabby Bochey
HAND MADE CRAFTS: Sophomores Darby Kendrick (left) and Grace Hertel (right) fold, cut, and create valentines day boxes for the Brookdale Beckett Meadows assisted living home. The Assisted Living Club have been regularly meeting with residents and feel that their club has created a little family within the home.

People bustle around in a constant routine, as numbers are announced loudly. B12. I26. O67. Eyes dart from board to board, and students watch on. One last number is called, and cheers erupt from one side of the room. Bingo!

The Assisted Living Club (ALV) is relatively new to the JBHS club scene, having started  in the beginning of the 2023-24 school year. Its co-presidents, sophomores Anusha Rudra and Abby Laine, hope to bring company and support to Brookdale Beckett Meadows, an assisted living home here in Austin.

“Our club is used to provide senior citizens with the social interaction that they need,” Rudra said.

The club visits nursing homes as a group, where arrange a wide range of activities for the seniors, such as hosting and playing games, eating dinners with them, and helping to clean up after them. Club member do everything to interact with them; they even spend time singing with their elders.

“I feel really good after volunteering at the home,” Rudra said. “It’s such a rewarding experience to connect with the residents and knowing that you have made a positive impact on their lives.”

Every Wednesday during FIT, ALV club meets in English teacher Rebecca Hertel’s room or their club sponsor Shelby Pennington’s room, where they discuss volunteer opportunities and make gifts to send to Brookdale members. While they only visit one nursing home at the moment, they hope to expand their visiting region and membership.

“We’ve built such a connection with the select group that comes to every volunteer event,” Rudra said. “It’s because we’re working together to help the residents.”

The presidents were inspired to start the club after joining the Children’s Hospital club, but they decided they wanted to take a more hands-on approach, where they could visit the people they were helping.

“We both loved that concept, but were sad we couldn’t actually go and interact,” Laine said. “So, we thought of visiting nursing homes because they are more accessible.”

The rest of the pieces fell into place after sophomore secretary and treasurer Gabby Bochey’s schedule freed up, and she joined the leadership team shortly after the club began.

“It’s an experience that I think more people should be able to participate in, because it’s really good for the community,” Bochey said. “And it’s great to find new friends among the residents.”

The duties of the leadership positions include overseeing funding, helping provide materials for crafts, creating social media posts, and planning volunteer opportunities and meetings.

“Gabby and Abby really helped me out on doing this, and they are making this club possible,” Rudra said. ”They are my biggest supporters.”

For events to be planned, Rudra contacts Linda Wiggins, the Resident Engagement Coordinator of Brookdale.

“The pairing of young people with seniors is very enriching for our residents,” Wiggins said. “They love the interaction and the opportunity to build relationships with young people out in the community.”

A good portion of the members’ incentive for joining ALV was to experience their career paths in the real world, whether that be psychology and social works, or something in the medical field. Sophomore Shivani Dilip-Latha is pursuing a career as a therapist, and for this reason was drawn towards the club.

“I want to learn how different minds of different ages think, and this was a really good opportunity to talk to people of all generations and see how they act with people who are younger than them, and how they treat them, and how they interact with us as a whole,” Dilip-Latha said.

According to the Center for Disease Control and prevention (CDC) over 1.3 million people in the United States live in a nursing home, and a large portion suffer from illnesses or cognitive impairments such as Alzeihmer’s disease.

“I know sometimes their families don’t visit, and as nice as the facility is, it’s sad to me how we just ship our elders off into a home and ignore them forever,” Bochey said. “I think that’s sad that we do that in our culture. Having young people, young minds come and talk to you to see what they’re doing, they really love that.”

Despite the age difference, the club members and Brookdale residents have been formed new friendships and connected over the acts of kindness that forms the basis of the ALV club.

“I went up to one of the residents and I gave him a card,” Laine said. “He asked for me to hold on to it for him. Then we were about to leave so I went to give it to him. He hugged me, because I remembered. It was really nice.”

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