My Service Learning Experience atAssisted Living at Evergreen By: Shaina Kuhn
At Assisted Living at Evergreen, I was given the opportunity to work with Maria, their activities coordinator, and help her with activities and decorations of the home. This really gave me the chance to get to interact with the residents and make their home look nice. • I have learned many skills and valuable lessons from this service learning experience. I have learned that the smallest thing you do for someone can mean a great deal to them such as how a simple painting of fingernails can be greatly appreciated for people who can’t do it themselves. • I have learned to follow directions better, practiced doing crafts, decorating, and painting. After conducting some research for this course’s assignments, I came to find that doing these decorations and crafts all make a positive influence on the residents as well as getting them to do activities. One study showed that an activity program they conducted “reduced institutional barriers to participation in pleasant activities, increased resident control over activity participation, increased overall activity participation, and improved depressive symptoms” (Meeks).
Some of the activities I got to help with for the residents included chair exercises, bingo, painting the ladies fingernails, and decorating the Christmas tree. Chair Exercises
Bingo Decorating the Christmas Tree
I have learned a great deal about myself from this experience. I have volunteered before, but this experience let me know first hand the difference that I can make in people’s lives. Just being positive and in good spirits can make another’s life happier and better. Another study I found conducted research on older adults to find if happiness and humor could promote life satisfaction and it showed that there was significant improvement in their life satisfaction and shows that the participant’s outlook changed significantly as a result of just participating in the program (Mathieu) • This course surprised me by the fact that I really enjoyed it. I thought I was going to come into this experience trying to hurry up and get my hours done and I came to find that I loved being there and loved doing things for the residents. They all were just so appreciative of what Maria and I were doing it just made it that much more gratifying.
With my newfound knowledge of caring and people’s appreciation for acts of kindness, I will try to incorporate it into my everyday life as well as in situations or other volunteering experiences. • My experience at Evergreen will be beneficial in my future endeavors because I will always remember my experience there. Knowing that the little bit I did to decorate their home and helping them with activities made their lives better and happier makes me want to always try to have that affect on people no matter what the situation is.
Progression of my painting One thing that I am particularly proud of is the Christmas scene picture I painted for the residents that will be hung up on the wall for all to see.
Finished Product I am particularly proud of this picture because I worked so hard on it and it can be hung on the wall so they can remember me by it. I am also proud of it because I feel like it is something they can look at and it could possibly bring them happiness and put them in the Christmas Spirit.
Some experiences that I had that related to my academic readings and coursework were that I experienced along with the researched students who were involved in civic engagement, that I too enjoyed and felt like I learned more from it than traditional learning. I also experienced that I had more interest in going to do my service learning than I have in going to regular class like they were too. • After I completed my assignments, I simply tried to incorporate the knowledge that I gained from them in my experiences to better the residents experience, such as being positive and humorous when I talked to them. • I also had a first hand experience in hearing the joy and appreciation that our decorations of their home brought to them. They simply just kept making sure we knew how nice everything looked and what a good job we did and that they really enjoyed them.
My other college courses were useful to me during this experience by giving me a background on the age group that I was working with and with what the nurses were doing. • I am currently taking psychology 241, Intro to Human Development, and this really let me know what the residents were experiencing and what normally happens throughout their age period. It covers every aspect of their lives such as psychosocial, physical, and cognitive development so I really knew what to expect and see from them. • In my nursing course we are getting a general view of what a nurses job entails and all of the knowledge that they need to gain over their schooling to be a great nurse. This was useful in getting to see first hand nurses at work and having an idea of what they were doing and trying to accomplish.
One of my big projects on site was to make angels. Maria came up with the idea to have each angel to represent each resident and for people to adopt an angel. She went around and asked all of the resident what the wanted for Christmas, typed it up, and I glued it on the angel’s dresses. When we decorated the Christmas tree the residents got to place all of the angels on it. When someone decides to adopt an angel, all they have to do is take on from the tree, get some of the items listed for presents, and bring it back with them as part of the residents present so they each will get an angel.
Another project I worked on besides just decorating their home was making snowflakes, holly, and birds out of paper to decorate their tree. The tree is painted on the wall and they decorate it according to the changing seasons for the residents to enjoy. We changed it from fabulous fall to wonderful winter.
Finished Decorations • Overall, I learned a lot, had a great experience, and really enjoyed my time at Assisted Living at Evergreen. I really enjoyed getting to do things for the residents and doing their activities with them. I definitely enjoy service learning and think it should be brought into more aspects of college courses.