by JESSICA MARONEY
In an age where communicating with a friend or family member on the other side of the country takes no more than a few clicks of a mouse, or a few taps on a cell phone screen, research indicates that we are, as a society, more lonely than we have ever been. One group which is particularly at risk for loneliness is the elderly. Luckily, to help end senior loneliness, there are passionate student volunteers brought together by the GlamourGals foundation.
The GlamourGals foundation, located in Commack, New York, fosters self-esteem and mutual respect among two generations. Their mission is to create teen volunteer chapters which provide companionship and complimentary beauty makeovers to women living in senior homes. These chapters have been started all over the country, organizing and inspiring teens to be involved in their community and connect with people.
Oceanside High School has begun its very own chapter of GlamourGals this school year. On Sunday, November 8th, a group of about 15 student volunteers, including myself, visited with senior citizens living at the Atria Senior Home in Lynbrook for the first time.
The first visit to the senior home went even better than I thought. There were so many seniors who wanted a makeover or manicure; we had to set up more tables! They were all so appreciative of us visiting and happy to have someone to talk to. They shared stories with us, told us about their families, and even asked us about our aspirations and offered their advice. I found it easy to have the seniors open up to us. I knew these people loved having company, especially from young high school students. One lady, Alice, started to get emotional because she was so grateful for us visiting and giving makeovers to her and her friends. She told me she was very impressed with me for organizing this event and said I have a very bright future, which meant so much to me. A lot of the other women had very positive and kind words towards us as well; we couldn’t help but smile when seeing them so happy and knowing we are the reason behind it.
I feel that my fellow volunteers and I have already made connections with these people. Even after everyone left, my friend Lily and I lost track of time and stayed another half hour talking to a group of seniors. We asked them about where they lived, about their families and about the most exciting experiences in their lives. One man told us he was a Broadway star, a chef, and a race-car driver, but his fellow residents told us he likes to exaggerate a lot which was very funny. My volunteers and I agree that this experience was not only rewarding, it was a lot of fun for us to give manicures and learn about these peoples’ lives. All of the seniors were asking when we were going to return!
It is already clear to my volunteers and I that GlamourGals is about more than just makeovers and manicures; it is about connecting with people and creating meaningful bonds. We have already begun to do that and will continue to do it at our next makeover