by Kristen Bush
In the spring of this year, I began volunteering at Brookdale Senior Living. Each Friday at 3:00, I go to play Bingo with a group of the residents, and then at 4:00, I sing for them while they enjoy refreshments. I frequently sing old hymns, and many of the residents enjoy singing along with me.
One evening, a brilliant pianist, Mrs. Carolyn, came to Brookdale to entertain the residents. She is a favorite because of her energetic, jazzy interpretations of classic songs, and I was able to sing along to several of her renditions. Towards the end of our performance, a gentleman named Mr. Charles made his way to the piano. I was informed that Mr. Charles was a former professional singer; he had toured with a traveling gospel choir in his prime. He requested that we sing “I’ll Fly Away,” and he and I began an impromptu duet.
Though he is in his eighties, Mr. Charles’ tenor voice is still clear and strong. He harmonized perfectly with me, all the while clapping or raising his hands to exclaim, “Glory!” He requested Mrs. Carolyn play “Precious Memories,” which he sang beautifully. He ended his repertoire by singing “Tennessee Waltz” and bidding our pianist to play a “jazzy song.” He then put his walker aside and extended his hand to me, asking me to dance. The residents smiled, laughed, and clapped as Mr. Charles and I swayed along to the upbeat tempo. Afterwards, they thanked me for coming and told me how much they enjoyed hearing me sing.
I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to know the residents of Brookdale. Simply chatting with them brightens my day; their humorous anecdotes and witty remarks never fail to make me laugh. The fact that I, in turn, am able to bring smiles to their faces and brighten their days gives me immense joy. I plan to spend as much time as possible at Brookdale so that I can spend more time and build close relationships with these wise, kind people. The happiness that the residents give me is even greater than the feeling of crying, “Bingo!”
Kristen Bush is a sophomore Luckyday Scholar from Florence, MS, majoring in speech pathology and audiology. Brookdale Senior Living is located at 107 Fox Chase Street in Hattiesburg. Hear more about how you can volunteer at Brookdale through this short video.