2019 Seniors Helping Seniors Spring Scholarship – 2nd Place Winner

June 4, 2019

The 2nd Place $500 scholarship was awarded to Caroline Szuflita. Ms. Szuflita will be attending D’Youville College in 2020 to work towards becoming a Physician’s Assistant, with a hope to  focus on geriatrics.

Caroline - 2nd place scholarship winner - bay alarm medical

“The best classroom is at the feet of an elderly person.” (Andy Roony)

Over the course of my senior year, I was graciously given the opportunity to serve elders in my community. I have learned many inspiring lessons from these elders and I constantly strive to share my experiences with my fellow peers.

This past September, I contacted Eden Heights of Eden and questioned them about volunteer opportunities to fulfill the hours required for graduation at my high school, Eden Central. They happily welcomed me and I participated in over twenty hours of direct patient interaction at that facility. During my time volunteering, I called BINGO, assisted with meals and communicated with many of the residents. After a few days of volunteering, I was offered a dietary job at Eden Heights, which I happily accepted. I had such a great time volunteering that I wanted to make a bigger impact on these elders’ lives, which could be accomplished by seeing them regularly.

After a few weeks at my new job, I met a kind, wise and hilarious individual named Beverly. Beverly is one of the residents at Eden Heights and she constantly puts a smile on my face. I enjoy listening to her stories about her old job as an English teacher on my breaks and she never fails to come visit me at seven o’clock every time I work. Even though Beverly has some memory faults, she is always happy to see me and always asks how I am doing. We often joke around about the weather and her “boyfriend”, Elvis Presley. Beverly taught me the importance of living in the moment and not taking life so seriously sometimes. As a senior taking multiple college courses, playing travel basketball and school lacrosse while working, sometimes I forget to stop and smell the roses. Beverly always asks about my plans for the next few days and reminds me I will only be this age once, so I should make the most of it. Beverly has taught me so much about life and I cannot express how thankful I am for our friendship.

To continue, at the end of 2018, I was approached by the Eden’s Respite and Dementia volunteers, who questioned me if I would be interested in volunteering in their organization. Delighted with the offer, I decided to join this organization. In this establishment, family members of those who suffer from Alzheimer’s or Dementia drop their loved ones off in the morning and pick them up later in the afternoon. This gives the family caregivers a chance to run some errands and have a little alone time once a month. While we have the “guests”, we play games, paint and have a marvelous lunch. These “guests” enjoy my company, and I theirs. By joining this institution, I have received compliments and kind words from many. At the last meeting, a daughter of one of our “guests” told me that her father, Norman was talking about me for the rest of the day. She said my kind words and actions really impacted her. However, it was Norman that had the impact on me. Norman may not have the best memory or coordination, but he has the best heart. After stumbling on a few words in our conversation, I assured him it was alright and he was pleased by it. Afterwards, Norman and I played some games of bean bag toss and he couldn’t have been happier.

By spending not more than a few hours with this humbling man, I learned that seniors deeply value spending time with the youth of today.

As a result of learning these important lessons, I decided to share with my peers my experiences with Beverly and Norman. Inspiring my classmates, they inquired me how to get involved with seniors. I suggested volunteering with the elderly to complete the requirement for their senior year. In fact, two of my friends, Cyril and Julia, took me up on this idea. They both volunteered at Eden Heights and I was so happy to see them while I was working. By encouraging a few people to spend time with seniors, it set off a chain reaction, as many of my classmates now want to volunteer at Eden Heights and with Eden’s Respite program. In the future, I will continue to share my stories of working with the elderly to inspire my community to get involved with seniors.

In conclusion, by spending time volunteering and working with elders, I have learned many lessons. Beverly taught me the importance of taking things day by day and stopping to smell the roses. Likewise, Norman inspired me to continue working with the elderly and to continue to share my experiences with all those I meet. I enjoy bringing smiles to senior’s faces and I wish to dedicate my life to doing so. Next year, I will be enrolled in the Physician’s Assistant program at D’Youville College. After college, I wish to work in geriatrics and continue to learn from the elders I encounter.

The winners were chosen from more than 300 entries into the Bay Alarm Medical scholarship essay contest. Students were asked to submit essays describing how working with seniors has impacted their lives and taught them valuable life lessons. Visit our Scholarship page for further details or if you are interested in learning more about our Seniors for Seniors Scholarship.

1st Place Recipient – Benjamin Vogel 

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