At one Franklin assisted living facility, laughter rang through the room as college students and residents of the community worked on craft projects.
At another community in the city, college students sat with residents, who recalled their youth and their life growing up.
Nearly 200 students, faculty and staff at Franklin College performed volunteer work at about eight locations across the city on Monday morning, a key tradition in the school’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration. Volunteers also went to Gateway Services, Humane Society of Johnson County and Access Johnson County to do service work. College officials organize the day of service each year to honor King’s legacy.
Story continues below gallery
Anna King, a sophomore at Franklin College, was making a paper wreath with Ann Bullington, who lives at Morning Pointe Assisted Living and Memory Care with her husband, George. The duo laughed as they tried to figure out how to turn strips of paper into hearts using double-sided tape.
At Morning Pointe, about 15 volunteers worked with seniors to help them create paper Valentine wreaths, which will later be taken to Franciscan Health to be given to patients. Once that was complete, the students joined the seniors for a game of chair volleyball.
With a day off of school due to the holiday, King said she felt like the time was a good chance to give back to her community.
“You don’t get a lot of opportunities like this,” she said.
For Ann Bullington, the students’ visit was a welcome break from the routine. And for students who many not have an elderly family member, it shows them that seniors can still have fun too, she said.
“It’s wonderful,” Bullington said. “We don’t see that many young people normally. It gives us a chance to show the young people that we aren’t a bunch of old fuddy-duddies.”
At Compass Park, students played games with senior residents and had one-on-one conversations with residents in the memory care area.
For many of these residents, the times they recall best are from when they were young, so having college-aged students to talk with helps them bring back and share memories, activities coordinator Doris Donica said.
Conversation is essential to helping the residents maintain their memory and social skills, and having students visit provides a good break from the seniors’ routines, she said.
For many of the residents, they either don’t have much family left or family members don’t live close enough to visit often, Donica said.
Abbey Voss, a freshman a Franklin College, said she wasn’t sure what to expect out of the volunteering experience, but was quickly glad she had chosen to become involved. Being able to spend time with seniors was a new experience that was really interesting, she said.
Franklin College freshman Caleb Tennell spent time talking with Iris Richey, a Compass Park resident who had grown up on a farm in Warren County. Richey talked about her memories of milking cows and caring for chickens, and how farming was hard work but necessary because people have to eat. Tennell, who was raised on a farm in Shelby County, talked to her about some of his own experiences raising cattle.
Getting to know the residents and hear some of their stories was one of his favorite parts of the morning, Tennell said.
“We’ve had a good time,” he said. “Getting to know the people here is fun.”