Encouraged by the smiles on their faces, Dinner said, "I like to share music with other people. It's a great memory tool for bringing the seniors back to their youth." Dinner has been playing the piano since he was three, and takes requests at Allendale for Big Band tunes and music by famous composers. "I've always gotten good feedback. It's been a very positive experience,"
Volunteers are a vital part of The Allendale Community, providing an invaluable resource to the staff and residents, according to Mary Stampleman, ADC, Director of Therapeutic Recreation and Public Relations for The Atrium Assisted Living (http://allendalecommunity.com/
Another family member, Maryann Greco realized that volunteers could make a difference just by being a friend. While spending time with her mother Gertrude Mack, a nursing home resident, she noticed that some seniors never had a lot of visitors. As a result, she was inspired to start Growing Relationships and Making Memories (GRAMM), an outreach program that links senior residents with community volunteers to form friendships and help ease the loneliness.
Today, GRAMM is nearly one year old and boasts 10 community volunteers who visit assigned residents for about an hour, once a week. Greco encourages volunteers to share stories, play games, read a book, or just sit together. "We have an Eagle Scout who became friends with a man at Carlton Court," added Greco. "We just ask them to be a companion and they like to give back to the community in their own way."
"Volunteers touch the lives of our senior residents in a special way. Whether they are assisting on a regular basis or for a special occasion, their help allows us to keep our programs running smoothly," said Emily Brown, Activity Director for the Allendale Nursing Home.
Volunteers Eagerly Share Expertise and Energy
Carol Browne went from frequent visitor to active volunteer after spending time with her mother Stella Dukes and her aunt, both Atrium residents since 2006. "I had two relatives living there so I visited often, and it seemed natural to do things for and with the residents," she said. The friendships she formed at Allendale prompted her to get more involved. Today, she shares her expertise and energy to enrich the numerous activities offered to residents. Her efforts have included organizing everything from planting workshops, and art seminars, to musical performances, and Tai Chi classes.
Triggered by Browne's passion for horticulture, the hands-on planting workshops have been received with enthusiasm. Browne said, "I think most people, whatever their age, benefit from living with real plants and flowers and watching them grow. Typically, the residents plant multiple bulbs and label them, planting for anyone who isn't at the workshop."
In addition, Browne introduced Allendale residents to two workshops led by Darby Cartun. "Reflections on Art," a popular art therapy program helps to promote community connections among the seniors using fine art as a vehicle. This program was so well received that Cartun developed another program called "Think and Talk," or "TNT," which meets twice a month, and encourages residents to express their ideas on a wide variety of topics.
"The residents are delightful,"
Browne has several upcoming musical performances planned for Allendale residents, which are also open to the public. In early spring, Steve Kazlauskas will present, "Echoes of Sinatra," featuring the music of Frank Sinatra. Back by popular demand, Camerata Virtuosi of New Jersey brings classical music to life for residents.
"It's the people, the staff, and the administrators that make this community unique," said Browne. "They are incredibly committed to the residents and most have been at the Atrium a long time. They, as well as the residents and their families, make it both a pleasure and a privilege to be involved with this group of seniors."
For information about The Allendale Community, please call (201) 825-0660 or visit http://www.allendalecommunity.com/