"Suddenly, concerns about my A.P. Literature paper and Pre-Calculus assignments disappear" - Our "Must Read" for April
Participating in GlamourGals allows our volunteers to write about a unique topic for their college essays. Jessica, President of a New Jersey chapter, shared her GlamourGals experience while applying to colleges this year.
Every time I walk through the doors I am instantly hit with the smell of warm cinnamon, honey, and soap. It’s so warm and cozy in the lobby of Arcadia Nursing Home, even in the middle of May. When I look around there are always smiling faces, whether they are sitting behind the front desk swiping me in or sitting in wheelchairs down the hall. As I walk through the resident lounges a melodic piece of classical music plays from the speakers. Suddenly, concerns about my A.P. Literature paper and Pre-Calculus assignments disappear. Rather than holding onto these everyday stressors, I value the time I have to spend at the nursing home with my second family.
I have visited nursing homes regularly since fourth grade when my elementary school began a club called the Mini-Vinnies. Affiliated with my school’s Saint Vincent De Paul parish, this club works to collect canned goods during school masses, to raise faith awareness, and to visit the elderly at the local nursing home. I was excited to attend the monthly nursing home visits, especially after hearing how happy we made the residents and staff. I bonded especially with Pearl, a resident who always anticipated my visits. We spent hours talking about the holidays, our families, and special talents. It wouldn’t be a Thanksgiving visit at the nursing home if I didn’t bring her a homemade pumpkin pie! At every visit for my five years as a Mini-Vinnie, Pearl would beg me to bring my flute because she wanted to show off “her little Dolly” to her friends. Once I graduated eighth grade I knew I wasn’t going to see Pearl as often but she encouraged me to go make others happy as I had done for her.
My high school didn’t have a Mini-Vinnie chapter but I was determined to continue my visits as much as possible. To my delight, after attending an open house at my future high school, I learned about my school’s GlamourGals chapter. GlamourGals is an organization very similar to the Mini-Vinnies in which members take monthly visits to local nursing homes to provide residents with manicures and makeovers. After discussing this club with my parents and grandmother, they were quite impressed. My grandmother appreciated the importance of empathy more than anyone I knew, so it wasn’t surprising that she pushed me to join this club. As a former nurse, she helped me to understand that something as small as an hour visit could brighten the week of someone who doesn’t have family or friends to talk to.
Just before I began high school and GlamourGals my grandmother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away. Initially, visiting the elderly in the nursing homes pulled at my emotions but I grew to appreciate them so much more as my surrogate grandmothers and grandfathers. Since then, four years have passed and, just as I anticipated seeing Pearl, I now have Sophie, Trudy, Kevin, and so many more who I genuinely love as if they were my family. They have taught me many valuable life lessons that I will take with me through life. They have encouraged me to reach for achievements I usually wouldn’t reach for, to work for opportunities I normally wouldn’t pursue, and to stand up for myself when I’m inclined to step back. My relationships with these residents have had such an impact on my life. I am so grateful to have been given numerous opportunities thus far to spend time with them as they have become such an integral part of who I am today. As I approach the many future milestones of my life it is comforting to know that Pearl, Sophie, my grandmother, and so many others, as the loving grandparents they are, will be watching over me with their love and support.