Nothing is more satisfying for residents of Harvester Place Memory Care in Burr Ridge, Illinois than finding new ways to “give back” to the community. Recently, a group of local summer school children visited Harvester Place to work with residents to create some very unique dog chew toys, all to be donated to the local animal shelters.
It is a program that has been ongoing, and this was the last of three recent visits. Twelve children from the Community House summer camp program in nearby Hinsdale joined the residents for the project. And, while Harvester Place has had many past visits from the Girl Scouts and other youth groups, this has become one of the most popular.
The event was covered by the Chicago Tribune. Danyanique Hughes, life engagement director for Havester Place, explained that the program was among the first since the pandemic to bring in those from the greater community to visit their residents. And it was especially meaningful in that many residents have owned pets in their younger years. “A lot of our residents have very close relationships with pets,” Danyanique told the Tribune. “One of our residents would raise and show dogs in Georgia.” The staff at Harvester Place arranges regular pet visits, including those sponsored by Therapaws, in conjunction with the Hinsdale Humane Society.
Of course, the project has also created a great opportunity for residents to engage with young people. “Everybody lights up and they start to reminisce and they talk about their family members,” Danyanique said. “One resident used to be a teacher and she was telling the camper what she used to teach and what kind of work she would have given the camper.”
Working together, the summer campers and Harvester Place residents produced 45 chew toys, all made from donated t-shirts.
The residents of Harvester Place have a special place in their hearts for volunteering, and they have done so regularly in the community. The act of “giving back” is, in and of itself, powerful, helping them to feel more connected to the world around them.
For Danyanique Hughes, it is so important that the public understand that people with memory issues can still contribute to their communities. “It doesn’t matter what level you are or what type of impairment, anyone is very capable of doing a lot,” she said.
(The top image of a young camper with a Harvester Place resident, is courtesy of the Chicago Tribune.)