YORKTOWN, N.Y. – As the academic year wraps up, many students look forward to the summer break ahead. For some Pace University students, it’s bittersweet, because it marks the start of an absence from their favorite Yorktown seniors.
The student volunteers who have become a staple at the Yorktown Senior Center this year, calling Bingo every Friday, were recognized last month at the center’s Cinco de Mayo celebration.
After the center’s site manager, Noreen O’Driscoll, said a few words, the students and seniors enjoyed a festive meal and music provided by DJ Sal Rivera.
Delaney Williams, a criminal justice major at Pace who is graduating this year, said she is going to miss Fridays at the center.
“All the seniors were always just so inviting and so kind to us,”Williams said. “We grew a very close relationship with them and we always looked forward to Fridays when we knew we were coming here.”
The other students, Noreen Carlin and Leah Krinker, plan to return next year. Carlin said Krinker, who could not make it to the party that day, initially volunteered last year, and enjoyed it so much that she got the others to join her.
Ann Hatcher-Grove, a clinical assistant professor of nursing at Pace, said the volunteerism started as a small independent study, geared toward familiarizing nursing students with the senior population.
“We were bringing freshman students here to have the community experience as a prelude to what they would experience in the field,” Hatcher-Grove said.
Through things like pizza parties, ice cream socials and bingo, students could interact with seniors and get comfortable socializing with people of different age groups. Now, it’s expanded to anyone who wants to join, not just nursing students.
Ann Dobrowolski, a jovial woman who visits the center regularly for dancing, bingo and other activities, said the center’s variety of activities keep her coming back.
“This is wonderful, they have wonderful things for the seniors to do,” she said.
She added that the affection the volunteers feel toward the visitors of the center is very much reciprocated.
“They’re really very sweet,” Dobrowolski said. “It’s really nice to have them come in and be with the seniors and see what it’s like to get old — it can be fun.”