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Students open their hearts to senior citizens


Transitions students bring valentines, baked goods and cheer to Marquis Centennial residents

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Abby Smetana chats with Betty Hubert during a Valentines Day event at Marquis Retirement Facility on Thursday morning.

Pop ballads, glittered homemade valentines and plates of red and pink sprinkled baked goods filled Marquis Centennial Thursday morning, as students from Reynolds’ Transitions program brought valentines cheer to residents.

“What a great event,” said resident Betty Hubert, 88, who dressed up in a valentine’s headband and matching shirt. “Everyone ought to have a love. I have four sons in the area I love dearly. I try to love every day because that’s what life is all about.”

Transitions is a post-secondary high school program in the Reynolds School District that helps students ages 18-21 on individual education plans (IEPs). Students develop career and life skills for independent living. A huge part of their program is volunteering in the community.

“We try to teach them to use their leisure time in a constructive way helping the community,” said Wendy Hammitt, a Reynolds special education teacher.

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Students from the Reynolds post-secondary high school program gave treats and handmade valentines to residents at Marquis Retirement Facility on Thursday morning.

In preparation for the valentine’s party, students crafted cards, baked and prepared refreshments and arranged flowers in decorative vases.

The event planners included students Abby Smetana, Tunisia Hamilton, Khilee Bundy, Ashley Lewis and Mykall Stensland, accompanied by Hammitt, Transition Specialist Dionne Madigan and educational assistants Haley Ahin and Adam Ross.

Madigan said students volunteer in many places, and felt particularly comfortable coming into Marquis.

“I liked meeting new people and baking,” Lewis said with a smile, looking over a plate of peanut butter cookies, mini cupcakes and chocolate truffles she had helped bake.

Marquis is a facility for seniors offering long-term care, skilled nursing care and memory care. Most residents are 60 or older. For Marquis residents and staff, the valentine’s party was a lovely way to celebrate the holiday.

“It’s so fun to have the residents interact with kids,” said Jessie Fowler, Marquis activities coordinator. “It makes them happy to have people visit them, and we want to say a huge thanks to the students.”