Rachel Rodrigues and Amelia Artz are two young Girl Scouts with a mission to help brighten the day of seniors at The Elms of Cranbury through using recreational art and crafts activities.
They have served as the hosts to three events already and have planned a fourth in August at the nursing home.
“We noticed that some seniors were down and wanted to help them stimulate themselves, as well as have another way for them to express themselves,” Amelia said.
According to nursing home officials, The Elms is a subacute rehabilitation and nursing facility in Cranbury.
“For seniors that may not have family or friends that visit them, this activity allows us to talk with each one of them and do arts and crafts,” Rachel said.
Their project during the summer is part of achieving the Girl Scout Silver Award, the highest award a girl scout cadette can receive in the organization.
For the first craft activity event, the seniors made their own flower vases in celebration of Mother’s Day through painting and decorating. They then chose from an assortment of colorful artificial flowers to put in each vase. Seniors were able to keep the flower vases to add a “bright and colorful touch” to their room, according to Rachel and Amelia.
The cadettes said for the second event, they decided to let the seniors paint whatever they wanted on a canvas, in order to get creative juices flowing.
“During the third craft event we made bracelets. We put beads on safety pins and connected them with a bracelet and made the bracelets off of different bead colors. Seniors were able to choose any bead colors they wanted,” Amelia said.
Both Amelia and Rachel are set to be freshmen at Monroe Township High School this upcoming fall.
“The best part of doing this project has been talking to the seniors, because sometimes the seniors don’t get to talk to someone new. Seeing them get all happy when they finish doing the arts and crafts is great,” Rachel said.
Amelia said interacting with seniors is the highlight of doing the project for her as well.
“They do not get to interact with youths that much and we get to hear so many of their stories. I remember I was talking to this one senior and she was telling me her whole story,” she said. “She told me about her 15 grandchildren and I just really got to know her.”
They said they will have one more event with the seniors, where they will have a younger Girl Scout troop involved so they can be taught on how to conduct further events.
“We want the younger girl scouts to carry on the event for us,” Amelia said.
Amelia and Rachel, throughout the process of working with the seniors, had gotten to know each of them.
“When we go back for another event they recognize us. I was working with this one woman and she kept talking about how I painted a log cabin with her,” Amelia said. “Even though I am not going to be doing this anymore after we pass down it to the younger troops, I am still going to keep going because I love the experience in helping the seniors.”
Rachel and Amelia have done one event per month since May. For their project to be considered for the Silver Award they have to do the final paperwork and submit it by Sept. 30.
“When the seniors do the arts and crafts they can take home a colorful piece of work they created to brighten up their day. They also get to tell us stories about back when they were children and how things are for them now,” Rachel said.
Amelia said she hopes the seniors takeaway the memories that they have with the young adults and understand that hanging out with youths can help uplift them.
“We want to let them know that they can have a great rest of their life,” she said.
It took about six months to prepare for their first arts and crafts event this summer, according to Rachel and Amelia.
“This has really been rewarding for me. I appreciate my youth more and do not take anything for granted. You never know what happens when you get older you may lose opportunities,” Rachel said.
Both Amelia and Rachel said they love the experiences and challenges of the Girl Scouts, which they said allows them to help out their community.
“I have become even more of a happy person due to this experience and it means something to me to help put a smile on the face of seniors we do crafts with,” Amelia said.
Amelia’s younger sister’s Girl Scout troop will continue the arts and crafts activities with the seniors and both Amelia and Rachel intend to go back to the Elms whenever they can.