This post, written by Steph Allen, is the sixth in a series of entries from Stonehill College’s Into the Streets team.
Every Tuesday around 3:30 PM I walk into the Arts & Media Room at Heights Crossing Assisted Living and am greeted by many smiling faces. Never did I think that doing crossword puzzles on a Tuesday afternoon would rejuvenate me in the way that my weekly trip to Heights Crossing does. The residents of Heights Crossing have welcomed me in as a member of their community and have taught me much about slowing down and living life.
Going to Heights every week makes me slow down. I spend my days at Stonehill running from one place to the next; class, meetings, work, so much so that people often ask why I bother to volunteer – certainly there aren’t enough hours in the day for that. But the bustle of my daily life at Stonehill is exactly why I go every week. No matter how hectic my day has been, going to Heights allows me to leave our beautiful campus and all of the stress of my week behind. Walking into the Arts & Media Room and feeling an overwhelming sense of welcoming renews me. It reminds me how important it is to slow down, take a break, and enjoy the simple things and the company of those around me.
The moment this clicked for me was when, after a month or two of going every Tuesday, the residents started to remember me. But it wasn’t just that they remembered my name, but they remembered things about my life at Stonehill and my future aspirations. Yet this wasn’t a one-way relationship. I started to know them – stories of their youth, about their children and grandchildren. We found common interests and shared jokes, did trivia and chatted about politics, played games and celebrated Mardi Gras. My friends at Heights show me every week, the power of slowing down and appreciating the moment we’re in.
As this semester, and along with it, my Stonehill career, quickly comes to a close, I have found myself reflecting a lot on the opportunities and experiences I have been blessed with during my time at Stonehill. A common theme throughout my experiences is service. I have volunteered with the homeless, have tutored children, and have been on three H.O.P.E. trips. Certainly, if you had asked me four years ago when I began my journey, I never would have said that I would be interested in Elder Care. Yet on the other side of four years, I am happy that my path has led me here. It exposed me to a new justice area that I had never known much about before and my time at Heights Crossing has taught me lessons about life and friendship. Recognizing the little time I have left at Stonehill, I can’t help but think about how much I will miss my Tuesdays at Heights.
When asked recently to define what service is to me, the first word that came to mind was rejuvenating. In the end, I have my friends at Heights Crossing to thank for reminding me how renewing an hour of crossword puzzles and conversation can be and for their welcoming spirit and friendship.