What inspires 30 high-achieving, accomplished, and busy high school students to give up their Saturday to volunteer? This is the question I asked Jack and Jill Club of Prince George’s County vice student president, Layla Frater, after she and 29 of her peers came to Largo Landing Fellowship House to put on a Seniors for Seniors fall festival. Layla said that it is important for her to take a step back from the busyness of life to reflect on her community. She went on to say that seniors have been instrumental in building our community and that she wanted to give back in a hands-on way.
Jack and Jill is a club that is unique in many ways, most notably that it is run entirely by mothers. The chapter organizers don’t just look for unique ways for their students to become involved in the community, but they actually seek to create these opportunities. Many of these projects are service-based projects seeking to give back. One of the most meaningful past service projects to Jack and Jill’s Student President, Christian Jackson, was going to Martha’s Table and putting meals together. Christian says that he finds it refreshing to be around people who care about others and get to see the impact he can make on his community.
It was in this spirit of giving back that the chapter organizers reached out to Fellowship Square wanting to put on a Fall Festival at Largo Landing. The festival, called “Seniors for Seniors”, was designed to be an inter-generational celebration with music, games, and dancing. To open the program, three students choreographed and performed an original dance to Beyonce’s Bigger followed by another talented performer who sang and played piano. After these performances, residents were invited to get in on the action as the teens taught line dances. Residents and teens alike cha-cha’ed, boogied, and stomped their way across the dance floor, laughing the whole time.
After being thoroughly danced out, the teens presented technological essentials like internet safety, how to send an email, and how to use FaceTime. This was followed by a time for snacks and games, which brought peals of laughter echoing through the room amid fierce competition as seniors vied against seniors.
The impact of this visit was evident on the faces of residents, and Rev. Bryant articulated it best with her heartfelt thanks to the visitors. She said “Thank you, Jack and Jill, for coming out to bring so much love, joy, gentleness, kindness, and enlightenment with your talents. You changed the atmosphere, and I saw so many happy smiles, so much laughter, and so much love.” Layla Frater echoes this sentiment saying that she “really enjoyed [her time], and was really excited to be there… [I] didn’t know the residents, but I felt loved and cared for and felt like there was a lot of wisdom in the air. It was just a warm feeling being there.
Written By: Kristen Fitzgerald, Volunteer Program Manager