During a time of quarantines and social distancing, Lorain County JVS students found a way to make meaningful connections with seniors in the Lorain County community. In partnership with Hospice of the Western Reserve, JVS students trained as hospice volunteers and did not let the spread of COVID-19 stop them from bringing joy to so many at Abbewood Retirement Center in Elyria, O’Neill Center Ridge Nursing Home in North Ridgeville, and LIFE: Dementia Friendly LIFE Foundation, Memory café in Vermilion.
Each week, students developed a virtual activity that was tailored to the location. Many residents received full art kits that included coloring pages, colored pencils, and a personal letter and photo from the student. Students streamed videos of step-by-step dance videos into residents’ rooms and if streaming wasn’t available, the facility received Bluetooth speakers so residents could listen to the music and instructions. The items for this program were paid for using the Community Foundation grant and the students’ own student program funds.
Michele Gillum, volunteer service manager at Hospice of the Western Reserve, said, “The closing of facilities and schools happened so quickly, no one expected the students would be able to contribute this semester, but they developed ways to stay involved with activities, crafts, treats, cards, and special Music and Movement videos for the residents. The surprise packs and personal notes of encouragement meant the world to residents who were completely cut off from friends, family, and neighbors.”
“The relationship Hospice of the Western Reserve has fostered with the JVS students is life changing. During the pandemic, they learned to adapt their skills through virtual volunteering. We were inspired by the creative new ways they were able to connect with our hospice patients and provide value and meaning during this difficult time,” said Carole Klingler, community facility coordinator, RN, BSN with Hospice of the Western Reserve.
Watch the story on Spectrum News 1 Ohio here.