Seven Hills at Groton Expands Volunteer Program

When Arlene Howard became the Activities Director at Seven Hills at Groton, there was hardly any community involvement with the nursing home. Using just a telephone directory and a spiral bound notebook, Arlene and a part-time staffer recruited a rotating group of about 20 volunteers who regularly interact with residents today. They sent hundreds of letters to area churches, schools and social and service organizations to find those special people who make life meaningful for children with severe disabilities.
Their volunteers include boarding students from The Groton School, college kids from Middlesex Community College and Fitchburg State College, and dedicated retirees, Lions Club members and even some staff members. The volunteers are pair uped with residents and guide them "hand over hand" through activities and help them enjoy musical performances, crafts and Wii game sessions. Arlene has developed a 90 minute orientation to sensitize newcomers to residents' needs and teach them how to communicate with the mostly non-verbal young people. She also helps them become familiar with the building and safety issues. Seven Hills at Groton honors its volunteers at an annual Ice Cream Social, but Arlene has also enrolled the home in the President's Volunteer Service Award program. Several volunteers have already earned bronze, silver or gold medals for 50, 100 and 150-hours of service.
Arlene also keeps meticulous listings of each resident's participation to ensure that everyone is included. Executive Director Holly Jarek credits Arlene's enthusiasm and organizational skills for the increased community involvement. "Arlene did it from scratch. I can't praise her enough." For more information about Seven Hills at Groton, contact Arlene at ahoward@sevenhills.org or visit http://www.sevenhills.org/shg.html