CCA student volunteers at local nursing home to show commitment to community
The Yates family at Commonwealth Charter Academy regularly volunteers at a local nursing home exhibits CCA's Climate of Caring.
Whenever Adam Yates visited his grandmother in the nursing home, he would notice sad faces on many of the residents.
“Sometimes, they might not be smiling because maybe they feel lonely, or they wish they had some company,” he said.
That was in Michigan before his grandmother passed away. When Adam’s mother, Nancy Yates, looked into volunteering at a nursing home near their home in Beaver County, he asked if he could join her. Today, Adam, who is a fifth-grader at Commonwealth Charter Academy, and his mother are devoted volunteers, happily giving their time to engage residents in games and conversation.
“When I walk in, they’ve got smiles all over the place,” Adam said. “I’m so happy to see them smiling when I help out.”
The Yates family’s commitment to the community is rooted in a string of tragedies. The space of a few short years saw the deaths of Nancy Yates' two nieces, father and mother-in-law. When Adam suffered a stroke at age 3, his mother realized through her tears that she was “no help to anyone if I'm not strong,” she said.
Wanting to help alleviate the kind of loneliness she’d seen in her mother-in-law’s setting, Nancy contributed to the holiday gift drive of a nearby nursing home. She asked to meet the recipient of the cozy nightgown they purchased, and then she learned that volunteers were welcome -- even children.
“Adam has such a good heart,” she said. “He said he wanted to volunteer, too.”
One day, they dropped by to help during “balloon ball,” when residents toss around a punching bag balloon. Sometimes, the ball fell in the middle of the circle, where the residents couldn’t retrieve it. So Adam and Nancy took turns sitting in the middle and batting the balloon back to residents. Everyone had so much fun that a tradition was born.
Today, the whole Yates family – Adam, Nancy, his dad, Jim, and brother, James, a CCA senior – volunteers at the nursing home. They play balloon ball and bingo, listen to music, help on movie night and even maintain a fish tank they donated.
Adam didn’t realize it at first, but he is making the kind of connections that exemplify CCA’s Climate of Caring – the idea that families can help build communities within CCA and in their neighborhoods.
“It feels good to help people,” Adam said. “I like that I can make people feel happy and they’re going to enjoy themselves in their lifetime.”
The nursing home residents “have become a big family for us,” Nancy says. Volunteering teaches her sons compassion and caring – for the elderly and all others.
Adam likes his CCA classes and the activities that make lessons fun, such as recently learning “why my heart pumps so quickly when I’m excited and when I run around for a long time. It’s because it needs air,” he said.
Being enrolled at CCA even gives the family the flexibility to volunteer for daytime events at the nursing home, and that makes the residents happy. As his mom said, “They like me being there, but they love when I bring Adam.”