Teenage volunteers offer friendship, conversation with residents at Gulf Coast Village in Cape Coral
By: Gulf Coast Village
Students worked side-by-side with Gulf Coast Village staff to lead interactive, engaging activities like arts and crafts, bingo, fitness classes, afternoon teas, social events and more.
"Our teen volunteers are 60, 70 and even 80 years younger than some of our residents, but they quickly formed strong friendships and bonds that overcame any generational gaps," said Diana Nicol, Gulf Coast Village's volunteer coordinator. "Many of our residents are not originally from Southwest Florida and don't have a chance to see their own families on a regular basis, so they absolutely enjoyed interacting with their 'grandchildren' over the summer months."
"The teens do a great job and are always so friendly and helpful," added Ellen Sanford, an assisted living resident of Palmview at Gulf Coast Village.
Gulf Coast Village has an established volunteer program that welcomes anyone 14 years old and above who is willing to make a difference in the lives of area seniors. Because Gulf Coast Village is sponsored by Volunteers of America, a nonprofit organization, students can apply their volunteer time toward service hour requirements for high schools and college scholarships.
Collectively, the 50 teen volunteers this summer logged 1,500 hours of service time. Among those students was Ava McCormick, a 16-year-old senior at Cape Coral High School who volunteered twice a week helping with bingo, mini-golf and other social activities, as well as event management for Sunday church services.
"I really enjoyed interacting with the residents," McCormick said. "They had a lot of interesting stories to tell and are always so open while talking with you."
Gulf Coast Village welcomes individual volunteers as well as school, church and community groups.
"Volunteers play a key role in enriching the lives of our residents," Nicol said. "Our teen volunteers bring a high level of energy into the building, and it's infectious. Their presence gives residents a little pep in their step each day as they eagerly anticipate the new friendships and conversations."
For additional information about volunteer opportunities at Gulf Coast Village, please contact Diana Nicol at DianaN@GulfCoastVillage.org or 239-573-3334.