Story posted December 10, 2009
With the intention of getting an entire house involved helping out in Brunswick, Burnett House came to the McKeen Center one Thursday night as a group to learn what they might be able to do. Through a discussion, they came up with the idea of hosting a Senior-Senior Ball where they would invite senior citizens to campus for a "prom" of sorts. They quickly realized they needed to get to know some seniors first, so McKeen Center staff set them up with Sally Fitch from Thornton Hall. Now, the group works with residents in all the communities of Thornton Hall's Health Center, ranging from assisted living to memory impaired and long-term care. They visit with individuals, read, drink coffee, play cards and just hold residents' hands. And they learn. One woman with dementia can recite the Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech even though she can't remember her own name. She says she was there when Dr. King delivered the speech in Washington. "We would want people to be around us when we reach our golden years, so the residents of Thornton Oaks probably do too," says Robert Flores '12 who is helping to coordinate the project. "Loneliness is a feeling no one should have to feel." While the ball may or may not occur, the residents and the students are enjoying things just as they are for now.
Meanwhile, residents of Stowe Hall were interested in working outdoors and got involved in weatherization projects in the greater Brunswick with Habitat for Humanity 7 Rivers Maine. Twelve Stowe Hall (and some Howard Hall) residents ventured to Bath for training and then headed out to work with low-income homeowners to close up holes, seal windows and doors, and install energy-efficient lightbulbs.
The weatherization team included: Kate Leifheit, Will Pugh, Grace Cheung, Sienna Kurland, Brian Huynh, Zac Crawford, Tori Hricko, Andrew Cushing, Catherine Rountree, Cris Alvarez, Nicole Woo and Morgane Richert.
To keep supporting Habitat, Stowe also is collecting bottles and cans in Habitat for Humanity klink bags. Every two weeks, the dorm is able to generate about $25. "A small amount, perhaps, but every cent helps families in Maine stay warm in the winter," says Andrew Cushing, coordinator of the Stowe project.
To learn more, or schedule a brainstorming session for your hall, dorm or house, contact Susie Dorn in the McKeen Center first thing spring semester.