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A small group of Hillsdale College stu­dents goes to Drew’s Place, a local retirement home, every Sunday afternoon to lead the res­i­dents in singing hymns.
The group was orig­i­nally started by the GOAL program and is cur­rently run by junior Marie Land­skroener. The group meets from 1:30 to 2:00 p.m. on Sundays.
Although the group has been active for years, its numbers are small.
“Usually there only two or three of us, which isn’t very many, and I would like to see a lot more come,” said Land­skroener. “Last week there were five of us, which is a great number, and there were a lot of res­i­dents out.”
Around 15 to 20 res­i­dents attend each week, according to Land­skroener.
“The res­i­dents love it,” she said. “It’s so cute. Every time they thank us; every time they say ‘come back.’”
However, par­tic­i­pants say it pro­vides more than just enter­tainment.
“Music is not some­thing that’s absolutely nec­essary in our lives,” senior Audrey Southgate said. “It’s an added blessing, an added gift. They’re well-fed and well-cared-for in other ways, and that’s really great, but if we can have some­thing else to bring joy, in this case praising our Savior together, that’s a really good thing.”
Southgate said she has been involved with the program since her freshman year and con­siders it the high­light of her week.
“I get joy out of it,” freshman Quinn Reichard said. “Maybe it’s selfish of me to say I get joy out of it, but when you’re ded­i­cating your time to others, you get a certain sense of purpose out of that.”
Reichard has only attended for a few weeks, but is already a hit with the res­i­dents, who begged him to play a piano solo before he left. He says that having the oppor­tunity to create beauty is what makes vol­un­teering a blessing.
“I’m not trying to say that what we do here is par­tic­u­larly beau­tiful,” he said, “but it’s a little some­thing at least. It gives them a chance to hear a little some­thing.”
Others find impor­tance in the work in other places.
“I think that it’s important for com­mu­nities to have an exchange between young people and older people, for younger people to learn from older people, and for older people to see younger gen­er­a­tions growing up in the church,” Southgate said.
She said singing hymns is important to her, as well.
“It’s really encour­aging for me to see people who have lived their lives in Christ, to see how they still remember the hymns,” she said. “Singing hymns is one of the ways that we praise God, perhaps one of the most tan­gible ways we praise God. There’s some­thing really uni­fying about that.”
Singing, however, is just as important to the res­i­dents as it is to the stu­dents.
“I was thinking today about how a lot of these people are here, and this is the last place they’re ever going to be in their lives, and just how com­forting it must be to hear — each hymn has a message to it — just to hear that message,” said Land­skroener. “And espe­cially just to see young people liven up the place, even if it’s just two or three of us.”
The group desires to increase its numbers.
“I think the more the merrier, really,” Reichard said.“We need more singers. It brings joy to the old folks when they have a lot of young faces to look at.”
Southgate says she hopes the group will con­tinue to foster rela­tion­ships between the college and the sur­rounding com­munity.
“College is a very self-cen­tered stage of life, because we’re so inde­pendent,” she said. “I think it’s good to see people who are very dependent on help that also have a lot to give. It’s only natural for college stu­dents to become iso­lated in a bubble, but this is a good way of branching out a little bit.”
Land­skroener said she wants to see the group become a major part of the GOAL program.
“I hope that when freshmen come in they hear there’s orchestra, there’s choir, and there’s also this vol­unteer program,” she said. “I hope to make it a regular thing for many people.”
For more infor­mation about joining the group, contact Land­skroener at mlandskroener@hillsdale.edu.