Cottage visitors are the highlight of the day for our residents, whether the volunteers are signing carols, playing the piano, doing art projects or just spending one on one time with residents engaging in conversation or working a puzzle. Even more special is when we are fortunate enough to have volunteers that make repeat visits to the cottage. It allows our residents to create a familiarity with and anticipation of the volunteers and the volunteers to develop relationships with the residents. During this past school year, The Woodlands Cottage had a volunteer group come to help with various projects around the cottage. This group of volunteers wasn’t your average group of people. They were all high school kids from The Woodlands High School, but what makes this story extra heart warming is that these kids were from the special education program called Highlander Life. The Highlander Life program helps to teach high functioning special education students skills that can help them get a job in the future.
At the beginning of the school year, the Highlander Life program signed up four of their students to volunteer at The Woodlands Cottage. These four kids have been some of the best volunteers to ever step foot into the cottage. They helped play games with the residents, organize and clean the cottage, helped prepare meals with the caregivers and most importantly provided friendship to the residents and the cottage staff. To see the volunteers grow and engage residents over the course of the year was encouraging, but to catch the special moments of joy when a student touched the heart of resident were priceless. Rebecca was always quiet and shy when volunteering at different organizations in previous school years. All of her teachers were trying to find some skill that really sparked her interest. One day during her visit to the cottage, the caregivers asked Rebecca to help them bake cookies for the residents. She jumped right into the baking action as if she had baked her whole life. Rebecca soon became independent enough in the kitchen that she no longer needed assistance from the caregivers and baked all kinds of delicious treats for the residents. It was not only something that she enjoyed and was good at, but it gave her purpose was thoroughly enjoyed by the residents. It was such a privilege to see Rebecca blossom during her 10 months of volunteering at the cottage. Teachers are amazed at how much she has come out of her shell and how her social skills have improved. Residents were blessed with her companionship and tasty talents.
The time the students spent at the cottage not only helped them learn life skills that will help them to get a job, but it also helped create lasting relationships. The manager, caregivers and residents all became close friends with the students and the teacher who volunteered their time. Rebecca enjoyed herself so much that she is signed up to come to the cottage next school year. The students were not the only ones who fell in love with the residents, but their teacher loved spending time at the cottage so much that she became a part time caregiver for the summer. This group of volunteers are just one of many who give their time to spend with the residents and make new friends. Each AutumnGrove cottage enjoys the company of good people who want to help make a difference in someone else’s life.
If you or your organization would like to volunteer at one of our cottages please fill out the application by clicking HERE.