Jack Hobart and several of his classmates at Christian Brothers College High School were anticipating finishing their academic work early to participate in CBC’s Junior Leadership Service Program.
But as with so many things, the coronavirus pandemic brought the program to a halt. With junior service projects changed or outright cancelled, CBC faculty challenged students to find other ways in which they could still safely serve the community.
As Hobart brainstormed ideas, he saw the impact the pandemic was having on senior citizens in particular. Hearing about how those living in retirement communities have been isolated from loved ones and family — with video conferencing, phone calls, letter-writing and visiting with loved ones standing outside their windows as primary methods of staying in contact — Hobart wanted to do something to be of service to them. In May, he and several classmates started Seniors 4 Seniors, a student-led organization dedicated to showing support to area seniors.
“We were trying to come up with a way of showing support for retirement centers and helping those who currently are in isolation, since obviously seniors can’t have a lot of visitors right now,” said Hobart, a member of Holy Infant Parish in Ballwin. “We thought this was a way to show support and appreciation for all the health care workers and to give the residents something to smile about.”
The group so far has delivered plant arrangements and note cards to residents at Cardinal Ritter Senior Services in Shrewsbury and Barnes-Jewish Extended Care in Clayton. They also have set up a GoFundMe page, raising more than $1,100 in donations so far to help purchase materials. Hobart said the group would like to set up a pen pal program to write letters to seniors; they’ve also talked about making holiday-themed arrangements for senior facilities.
On a recent afternoon, Hobart and other CBC students met in the driveway of his home to assemble 120 Fourth of July-themed plant arrangements for residents at Cardinal Ritter Senior Services. Each planter included a note card with the message, “We hope this small gift brings a smile to your day. Sending you our thoughts and prayers.”
Justin Pesek, who graduated from CBC this year, has been involved in other service projects at school, including Serving Servicemen, started by another CBC student to perform service projects at veterans’ homes; he’s also volunteered with the Parish School of Religion at Holy Infant. “I have a passion for service,” Pesek said. “I found (that passion) through Serving Servicemen.”
Rising senior Alex Ramirez said, “I’ve got free time, and I wanted to do something productive this summer,” he said. “It’s better than sitting around and doing nothing.”
Benjamin Bell, also a rising senior, said, “I figured I might as well do something more related to helping the elderly. I wanted to find something to do with my free time, and I thought this would be a good opportunity.”
CBC’s Junior Leadership Service Program typically releases juniors early from academic work to perform at least 50 hours of direct service in the community. The goal of the program is for them to increase awareness of the needs of those they serve and to grow in faith and a commitment to justice through servant leadership. The program is noted to have instilled a sense of service in students well beyond graduation.
Seniors 4 Seniors
To learn more about Seniors 4 Seniors, visit cbcseniors4seniors.wixsite.com/website
The organization also has a Facebook page at Seniors 4 Seniors,
Twitter account at @CBC_S4S, and
Instagram account at @cbcseniors4seniors.