Otterbein Students Connect with Senior Citizens During the Pandemic
Posted Mar 04, 2021
Felicity Boykin ’24
When senior citizens living at an assisted living community in Westerville were disconnected with the “outside world” due to COVID-19, Otterbein students were determined to stay connected with them in a safe way through a weekly service program called Grandma’s House.
“Working with the seniors is extremely fulfilling and has taught me a lot,” said Sarita Pattisam, a sophomore majoring in biology. “I am now better at relating to the seniors and understanding their needs.”
Before the pandemic, students would visit Friendship Village in person to enjoy time with seniors by leading crafts, themed parties, and bingo competitions. But this academic year, they had to get more creative.
Grandma’s House is a volunteer program through Otterbein’s Center for Community Engagement in which students spend time with residents at Friendship Village to advance intergenerational understanding.
Pattisam has been volunteering at Friendship Village since before COVID-19 hit. The pandemic has stopped students from visiting the seniors, but now the student volunteers are spending their time making crafts, writing cards, and recording videos to send to the seniors.
“It’s important to stay in contact with the seniors because this is a difficult time for them in isolation,” said Pattisam. “Many are distanced from their family and friends so it’s meaningful to
show our support.”
The Grandma’s House program has not only impacted senior citizens positively, but also many Otterbein students that volunteer. Even during a pandemic, the students have experienced personal growth from volunteering, and they hope to continue doing so for many years.