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Junior high students bring “snowmen” to Avita and create smiles

posted Jan 15, 2019, 3:59 AM by Michael Richards
A small group of Wells Junior High School students, who volunteer on a regular basis at Avita of Wells as part of service learning, visited this memory care community at lunchtime on December 20, 2018.  They walked the short distance from school to deliver small handmade snowmen created by them and a few others after school.  The 70 decorated plush items, made from cloth and rice, also had personalized greeting cards attached for each of the 68 residents.

“This was purely their idea (and) not adult driven,” said physical education teacher Renèe Savage who, along with Heather Fenderson, created this school program three years ago with just 10 students participating.   

The seven students visiting on December 20th represented a total of 26 fifth through eighth-grade students currently a part of this project.  Four times a week, differing groups of four or five students visit the dining area at Avita to assist staff in serving lunch.  While doing so, they have engaged in small talk with staff and diners and have become acquainted with them, 

“It is really nice to come over here and serve them food,” said Melody Goodwin, a seventh-grade student who added that it is nice to “chit chat” with the residents.  Teagan Hludik, who is in the 6th grade, added, “I love it because we see the residents every week and we get to interact with them.”  Hludik pointed out that some of the residents have families that “don‘t live in the state so they don’t have any people to visit them.  When we come, they feel happy because we’ll …give them smiles.”  Jessica Palmer, a sixth grader, added, “I like to see all the people get happy when you serve them…” 

“I get goosebumps every time I come here watching the intergenerational conversations and assistance,” commented Renèe Savage last June.  “It’s great for our students.  It gives them self-confidence and a sense of purpose.”   

Avita’s Social Program Director Angela Mastrella coordinates student visits with Savage.  
“The excitement of the students to be able to give these gifts out to each resident individually was inspiring to witness,” said Mastrella.  “In return, an incredible smile of gratitude was left on the faces of each resident.  Their act of kindness was spread throughout the entire Avita community and left all of us feeling the magic of the holiday season.  
Students who visit Avita
From left to right are Melody Goodwin, Belle Norton, Ms. Renèe Savage, Logan Blanchard, Catie Kasabinski, Molly Tavares, Jessica Palmer, and Teagan Hludik.


Resident accepting a homemade snowman
Avita resident Rose Fawcett receiving a homemade snowman from Teagan Hludik (left) and Molly Tavares.  Teagan is now volunteering to give Rose piano lessons.  


Resident of avita accepting a snowman
Avita resident and Marine Corps Veteran, Stanly Rotman receives a snowman from (left to right) Molly Tavares, Jessica Palmer, and Teagan Hludik.
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