All summer long, a group of Galowich YMCA campers has been volunteering at Sunny Hill Nursing Home in Joliet. Twice per month, 25 campers (in grades 6-8) and four Y staffers have visited the facility to keep the residents company and have some fun along the way.
“After their first day there, they loved it,” Youth and Family Manager Lynette Soto said, with an emphasis on the word ‘loved’. “They wanted to keep going back. They were always asking me ‘Miss Lynette, when are we going back?’”
When they returned, Miss Lynette noticed the children’s social skills were thriving more than ever.
“They would go up to residents and introduce themselves,” she said. “Their confidence went through the roof. There was no coaching by the counselors or myself. They just recognized that this was serious and this was something big that they were doing.”
In late June, the campers crafted colorful banners to decorate the facility in preparation for Independence Day. Towards the end of July, they had an outdoor party that included a variety of games and some refreshments.
“Our last time there, in August, we are putting on a show for them,” Miss Lynette said. “The kids want to do a talent show. They want to do a dance. Some kids want to do some tricks they know how to do. Some kids want to sing.”
“I couldn’t be more proud of them,” she said.