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Kids get crafty with volunteerism

Staff writer

The three of them stood nervously in the hallway, not knowing what to expect. It was the first time participating in Bethesda Home’s junior volunteer summer program for Logan Sterk, 11; Kendall Hiebert, 14; and Delica Ewert, 13.

It’s not that they were unfamiliar with the place; Delica’s great-grandmother lives there, Kendall had been there before, and Logan had just finished fifth grade, which has a program, Generation Bridge, that takes fifth graders to the nursing home to help out.

Activity director Gayle Voth led the kids around, recruiting residents to participate in the day’s event. It was a Friday, and for a craft, residents would be making paper flowers to hang on their doors. The kids would help.

Voth knocked on doors and invited residents to come out. Some declined, too tired to wake from their naps or not in the mood.

“That’s OK,” Voth told the kids. “Don’t be offended if they say no.”

Eventually she had kids go in and start inviting the residents themselves. First Kendall, then Delica, then Logan, then Kendall again.

All in all, six participants from the home agreed to come out, and Voth proceeded to show everyone how to fold and cut flowers.

The program is new for Bethesda Home, sort of a continuation of Generation Bridge. Voth said 14 kids had signed up to help this summer.

“We limited it to 14 because it’s the first year, and we didn’t know what to expect,” she said.

In addition to craft activities, the kids will read to residents, go on walks, or just help out with whatever the home is doing that day, be it bingo or singalongs or a meal.

Residents enjoy the experience.

“They do seem to light up when the kids come,” Voth said.

Resident Helen Schmidt confirmed that sentiment. She and Delica made a flower together.

Schmidt was raving about the bikers who came through town earlier in the week.

“Some of them said Goessel was their favorite stop of the entire trip, that just made me so happy,” she said.

Delica enjoyed talking with Schmidt and the other residents.

“They have some really cool stories to share,” she said.

The kids expected to have a good time, and they did. Delica and Kendall are going to be freshmen at Goessel High School, and they knew how to interact with the residents.

For Logan, it was more of a learning experience.

“It was fun for me and for the residents,” he said. “I signed up for different activities, and I plan on coming about twice a week.”

The program is for 10- to 14-year-olds, and Delica said she’ll be back next year.

“I want to be a teacher when I grow up, so it’s good to do something where you’re helping someone,” she said.

Schmidt and the other residents were excited for the kids to come back.

“It’s a good learning experience for them,” she said. “And it’s always interesting to make something.”

Last modified June 18, 2015

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