Olivia Anderson, a 16-year-old attending Escondido High School is finishing her Girl Scout Gold Award. She partnered with two different senior citizen facilities to address the issue of senior citizen loneliness and their lack of feeling valued in our community.
She told The Times-Advocate, “For each facility, I interviewed twenty residents (40 in total) and asked them numerous questions about their lives while recording their responses. I then went back and transcribed their stories into booklets.”
That part required the most work and time. After she designed the booklets, she had them printed and had “pass-back parties” at the respective facilities.
Olivia said, “Although I knew the senior citizens enjoyed being interviewed from my first encounters, when I gave them their booklets their reactions took me aghast. They thanked me countless times and seemed immensely touched. My heart was filled with joy and my eyes were filled with tears when I realized just how much this meant to them. After the pass-back parties, the senior citizens were elated to talk with my parents, who had come to observe, and me. The women especially seemed to relish in talking to my mom. It was an unforgettable and fulfilling experience, and I am so glad I was able to touch the senior citizens’ lives.”
Her project addressed the issue of loneliness in the elderly community, as well as allowing them to feel appreciated and heard. The project title is “Preserving Value,” representing the need to prevent senior citizens from feeling unvalued and worthless.
“I think that it is important to bring more attention to this topic,” said the Scout. “It is my hope that my project can inspire others to make an effort to spend more time with senior citizens whether it be with loved ones or complete strangers. Just a short conversation can brighten their day!”