Members of Frederick Douglass Academy VIII’s National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) brought holiday cheer to patients at the Spring Creek Rehabilitation and Nursing Center (SCRNC) last week.
Laughter and holiday music filled the center’s lounge as FDA VIII students paired with patients and together they created seasonal greeting cards for a second year in a row.
Students wrote poems and affixed colorful gems, floral cutouts and pictures to the decorative cards they designed with their partners. “It’s a fantastic feeling when you see how happy this makes the seniors,” said 13-yearold Thompson Unanomen, who worked with Diane Herndon and Lucille Andrews.
When he participated last year, Unanomen was a bit shy. Returning this year, he said he felt more at ease and among friends. “I appreciate every moment with them,” he said as he wrote a poem on what makes Kwanzaa special for Herndon.
“We are making this card for my daughter Simone,” said first time participant Herndon while looking at the different decorative designs to choose from. “It’s nice for the kids to be here. They can learn how to speak and work with older people and keep us company,” the 64-year-old said.
The intergenerational holiday activity is now a proven favorite. Michelle Rhone, FDA VIII teacher and NJHS co-advisor, said, “We have had so many patients ask if we are going to do this more than once a year. Everyone loves it!”
Effie Crowder, 81, was excited to see the students back at the rehab center. “I always love working with children,” she said with a radiant smile. “It’s just so nice talking with them and creating something beautiful together.”
The activity is one of several community services the students have provided this school year. “We want our scholars to get a sense of satisfaction from offering their services. And, gain a sense of accomplishment through their work,” explained Barbara Gathers, FDA VIII’s Arts Coordinator and organizer of the holiday visit. She said that it also teaches the value of volunteerism while learning insight into others’ lives.
The center’s Rehabilitation Director, Erica Pena, said the activity is a great experience for all. During the holidays, some patients do not receive any visitors. “The students really give the patients a feeling of fulfillment by making cards with them. It’s like they are giving knowledge and kindness to each other,” she said. SCRNC’s patients were overjoyed to have FDA VIII’s students bring holiday cheer to them, and the students were happy to share their holiday spirits.
By Amanda Moses and Agnes E. Green