All About S.M.I.L.E.S: Geriatrics Club Volunteering with the Elderly

By Atene DiLuca

Staff Reporter

On the Sacred Heart University campus, the smiles of the elderly are one of the most important things to the college students in the S.M.I.L.E Geriatrics club.

The five letters stand for the clubs motto, “Students Making an Impact in the Lives of Elders.”

The members of this club have the opportunity to raise awareness to the Sacred Heart community about the issues of aging. The organization is officially an academic club, which was started by students not too long ago.

“About a year-and-a-half-ago a group of students who finished their requirements with their Geriatric minor asked if they could continue volunteering because they developed such a close relationship with the residents of the long-time care facility,” said Michele Suhie, Coordinator of Geriatric Health and Wellness Program.

Presently, this club currently has approximately 40 members, and hopes to expand in the near future.

“Since it is a very new club I would like everyone to get involved. I’m hoping to make this club bigger and more well known around campus by making it a part of the national honors society,” said president of S.M.I.L.E Stephanie Lowe.

The group of students mainly works with the Jewish Senior Center, located just down the road from the Sacred Heart campus. The close proximity between the Jewish Senior Center and the university makes it easier for the college students to lend a helping hand to the seniors in the area.

“S.M.I.L.E Club also gives students who participate a way to experience and engage one-on-one with individuals who are older adults in the community,” said Suhie.

This club also hosts fundraisers to help raise money for the Jewish Senior Center.

“We are very proud to announce that we have a fundraiser coming up at Trumbull Mall’s Panera on Nov. 10 from 4-8 p.m. to help raise money for supplies and activities for the seniors, that way they can participate in events that will help make their day better,” said Lowe.

The club is not only offered to Geriatric students, it is open to all students on campus no matter what they may be majoring in.

“We are not exclusive and we are always open to new ideas. In fact, we have a diverse group of interests and majors from psychology to nursing, but we all come together to help the elderly who adore our company,” said secretary of S.M.I.L.E Samantha Burke.

The members of the club see this as a very rewarding experience to be a part of.

“Being a member of this club is a great opportunity to all students because it gives students a chance to boost their resume and give back to the community by volunteering to help the seniors,” said philanthropy chair of S.M.I.L.E Kate Sheridan.

Ultimately, these students wish to break stereotypical thoughts about the senior community and to make their lives better.

“The S.M.I.L.E Club benefits this elderly community because we have the opportunity to make the seniors’ day. It also helps the members of this club because it gives them the chance to see what life will be like once we are in their position,” said Lowe.

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