Nursing homes can be scary places for the residents as they yearn for companionship in a situation that doesn't bring frequent visitors. Knowing those often-unfilled needs of the elderly led Rachel Doyle to turn her focus to improving this situation.
Doyle was a sophomore in high school when her grandmother passed away in a Nevada nursing home. In 2000 at the age of 17, Doyle created the first GlamourGals chapter in Commack, NY, to build connections between different generations and honor her grandmother.
“What residents lack most is companionship and reinforcement from others that they are still human, still loved and valued, and still part of the community,” said Doyle.
GlamourGals gives seniors a sense of comfort and belonging in the community by having young volunteers spend quality time with them for “glamour” days where they receive makeovers and manicures.
Doyle has watched her dream grow to nearly 1,300 volunteers in more than 62 divisions in 13 states, including a group in St. Andrews, Scotland. A decade after her first makeover, she serves as CEO of GlamourGals and keeps her grandmother's memory alive by encouraging more people to volunteer.
The high school and college-age GlamourGals volunteers provide more than glamour services during the time they spend with their elders. The program also helps both groups cultivate respect and self-esteem, and help them build meaningful relationships.
“There's something about the human touch, that connects our volunteers with the residents of the senior home,” said Kavita Mehra, the New York City area program director.
Many of GlamourGals' volunteers have expressed their happiness about being able to spend quality time making others feel more engaged in the community, and the seniors share those feelings as well. The sense of reliability elders feel from the regular visits is an extra benefit of the program.
Throughout the years, GlamourGals has provided comfort and community to residents in nursing homes. The organization helps create bonds between generations that are truly endless.“I think it's wonderful that they volunteer their time and energy to come here to mingle with us,” said Hedu Pozarycki, a Maple Point Assisted Living resident. “We learn something from them and they learn something from us.”
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