5 Teens Who Are Helping to End Elder Loneliness
Blogger and Friend of the Foundation, Heather Furlow interviewed all our award winners at the 16th Annual Glammy Scholarship Awards.
Today, as many as 60% of seniors don’t receive visitors, according to the Health Services Research Journal. Less visitors and contact with loved ones means a greater chance of feeling isolated. And feelings of isolation can lead to depression and faster cognitive decline, according to the Journal of Primary Prevention.
One solution? GlamourGals.
GlamourGals encourages teens and college students to visit senior homes and provide makeovers to the elderly there. These volunteers (in chapters all across the country) are part of a movement of young people who understand the intrinsic value of giving back—and who see firsthand the effects of elder loneliness, as well as the positive impact of a simple conversation and a pampering touch.
The magic of GlamourGals is twofold: Both young people and the elderly build unique bonds and benefit equally from the services and programs. The Glammy Scholarship Awards is where GlamourGals shines a light on those young volunteers and applauds them for the positive impact they’re making.
This year's ceremony, on Saturday, May 18, was special because it took place at a senior center for the second year in a row. Local seniors attended the ceremony at Stanley Isaacs Senior Center in New York City along with over 100 GlamourGals supporters and teen volunteers.
Meet this year's five amazing scholarship recipients (along with Inspiration Glammy Winner Tiffany Pham!):
Amina Zoklat, 18
Volunteer Award Winner, New Jersey
On the true beauty of helping others:
“At first, I thought GlamourGals was a club for glamorous women. I went to a makeover and realized that it is glamorous, but in a different sense. We help the elderly, and that glamour comes from within. GlamourGals has showed me that a group of girls can make an impact that may seem small but is so important to those individuals you’re spending time with. I think people often forget that the elderly have so much wisdom to share and it’s worth making a connection with them, to bridge the gap between generations.”
Ellen O’Brien, 18
Chapter Vice President Winner, New York
On making deeper connections:
“GlamourGals isn’t like any other club where you’re just doing community service; you actually get to talk with people from other generations, which I think is so cool. You hear them reflect on the experiences in their life and you’re really getting to know someone. It taught me compassion and kindness and helped me to open up to other people. The seniors give you advice and tips, and they’re so friendly and grateful that we come to visit them. I love seeing the smiles on their faces. Volunteering for GlamourGals has been an amazing experience. I loved every minute of it.”
Chapter Treasurer Award Winner, California
On the power of perseverance:
“I never really thought of myself as a social person, but being a GlamourGals chapter leader has really pushed me to strive harder and teach others what I know. One of the most important things that I learned is perseverance. Before, I used to always quit whenever something got too difficult and so I never really made any progress. Now, I am extremely hopeful and I don’t give up as easily, which has really pushed me to do better both at school and in my social life. I’m really thankful that GlamourGals shaped me into a better version of myself.”
Anna Newen, 18
Chapter PR Officer Winner, New Jersey
On the way the elderly are often viewed in society:
“I’ve never heard of a club that connects with older generations at senior homes like GlamourGals does. GlamourGals emphasizes a mission that is so understated, but so important. At some point, society almost neglects the older generation—they raised the younger generation and then all of a sudden, what happens to the care for them? [The seniors I volunteer with] give me little sparks of reminders that life is so valuable and to just be grateful. That’s what sets GlamourGals apart.”
Susanna Gaither, 18
Chapter President Award Winner, Pennsylvania
On stepping into a leadership role and the benefits of face time:
“I was pretty hesitant to be the chapter president—all the other officers were graduating and then our advisor went on maternity leave and I had no idea what to do. I didn’t have the right phone number for the senior home and I felt a little clueless [laughs]. The first thing I tried to recruit members was to put up posters around school. Every makeover I’d put up 30 posters and then no one would show and I’d be like, ‘Why did I put all this work into the posters?’ [laughs] Then I talked to the office to make announcements over the loudspeaker, which helped some. The thing that helped the most is when we did a nail-painting event to spread awareness about GlamourGals during our school’s flex period. I learned that direct human-to-human contact is a lot more [impactful] than impersonal ‘Come to our meeting’ announcements over the PA. It’s much better when someone looks you in the eye and says, ‘You should come, this is fun.’”
Inspiration Glammy Winner, Founder & CEO of Mogul
On helping women realize their potential:
“I got to where I am today because of my grandmother. My grandmother was this big inspiration whose footsteps I sought to follow my entire life. The mission behind GlamourGals is so important: to empower one another to connect and create bonds and bring all of that intergenerational wisdom together. I love what GlamourGals stands for and what it’s doing for the world, and Mogul is doing so in similar way, just digitally. [We’re helping women] to learn more about themselves, to better identify their goals and dreams, and ultimately, to realize their full potential.”