Kaylyn Policastri, Chapter President, Academy of the Holy Cross
This summer, we are featuring blogs written by Glammy Scholarship Award Finalists. Today, chapter president Kaylyn talks about her unexpected friendships, and the valuable lessons she's learned from the older generation.
GlamourGals provides a unique opportunity for friendships between the youth and elderly. Before joining the GG movement, I never would have thought that I would be able to call some of the residents at Bartholomew House Assisted Living my friends. Maggie, Dina, and Florence are just a few of the women that my chapter and I look forward to seeing each time we visit. These women are funny, give great advice, and have a plethora of engaging stories to share. GlamourGals is important to my community because it has helped to break down the wall that society puts up between the youth and elderly. I see our chapter's volunteers growing in compassion and leadership. This movement has helped everyone involved flourish in their character and has shown me that just because someone is much older than you, that does not mean they should be feared. GlamourGals is important to my community because it has brought us closer together and made our own special family.
Being a relatively introverted person, stepping into a leadership role was a bit challenging for me. Three years ago, I never would have thought that I would approach Rachel Doyle at a leadership conference and ask to not only join a movement, but to lead it at my school. Members of the senior community used to terrify me; I was building my own walls and not even realizing that I was shutting myself off from some incredible people. Through my experience as a leader, I have torn down these walls and helped others break their own.
Our Academy of the Holy Cross chapter has only been running for two years, but we have wasted no time in sharing the movement and organizing fun events for our seniors. Every time the Christmas season rolls around, we put our heads together and brainstorm what little gifts we can bring to our seniors. A couple of them do not have any close family or friends to give them something special. Our volunteers focus more on the decorating of the actual box than what goes into it. We want to convey to them that they're important to us and we haven't just thrown random knick knacks in a box. This year, I organized a Christmas themed event with my chapter's volunteers. We stayed late after school, played some holiday songs, and carefully decorated our gifts. The volunteers had a great time, but we had even more fun handing them out! We didn't stop just with the women that came to our GlamourGals event; volunteers went throughout the whole nursing home and gifted them to as many people as we could. It was a great way to get into the holiday spirit!
Ultimately, being a leader has taught me the power of a simple, "Hi, how are you?" Starting the conversation is what's important. Helping others learn how to facilitate that dialogue and forge connections is what GlamourGals is all about. Before I joined this movement, I thought that men and women in their 70s were intimidating and I thought, in error, that we had nothing in common. GlamourGals has proved me wrong. These women that come to our GG visits are my friends. I consider Maggie and Dina from Bartholomew House just as good friends as the girls I go to high school with every day. This movement has helped me to realize that age really is just a number, and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to spread that message to others in my school and my community.
GlamourGals has helped introduce me to some amazing women who have shaped and solidified my aspirations and future career goals. I've had great conversations with women who have doctorate degrees in psychology and philosophy. Through talking with women like Dr. Ruth, I have decided to major in psychology and eventually go on to graduate school and earn a PhD. I want to help make people's lives happier and more fulfilling. No matter what path I go down professionally, I want it to involve an activity or organization similar to GlamourGals. I'll never forget that one visit I made to Bartholomew House a couple days after I had gone with my chapter. I was talking to another resident when I saw Maggie, one of our GlamourGals seniors, pull one of the Valentine's we had made out of her purse. She took it out, looked at it, smiled, and then put it back in her bag with the smile still on her face. That was one of the moments that has really shaped my life. I want to give someone that feeling every day, no matter where my career goes.