Students assist with ‘Senior Wish’ program at retirement center

Posted on November 8, 2017

Rachel Wittig shows off leis at the luau.

Erskine College student volunteers recently helped to present an “Aloha Luau” at The Renaissance, a retirement community in Due West. Senior Rachel Wittig, a psychology major from Fort Houston, Texas, served as coordinator, recruiting students to work with her.

Melanie Marr, activities director at The Renaissance, said the luau celebration was part of the Senior Wish Project overseen by vice president and marketing director Susan Jackson.

Residents are asked to name one thing they would like to do or would like to do again, and then efforts are made to honor their wishes.

Professor Emeritus of Physical Education and Health and former Erskine baseball coach Dr. Harry Stille, right, and his wife Reba Stille, who served for many years as nurse at Erskine

“Three of our residents wanted to visit Hawaii—in this case we were trying to bring Hawaii to them,” Marr said.

In addition to Wittig, student volunteers included sophomore Iris Gadsden of West Columbia, sophomore Kimberly Jimenez of  Mauldin, senior Brooke Johnson of Summerville, sophomore Chely McKoy of Swansea, sophomore Berenice Rabadan of Inman, freshman Courtney Teague of Kings Mountain, N.C., senior Luke Terry of Anderson, and freshman Brooke Weathers of Greenwood. The students helped to serve the meal and clean up, filled out name tags, and escorted residents being honored. Nine students volunteered in three shifts to help the event run smoothly.

“They had tropical fruit and drinks in the lobby, were greeted with a big ‘Aloha’ and lei at the door, then went on to the dining hall where we served them Hawaiian pulled pork and rice, along with a dessert of pineapple upside down cake,” Wittig said.

“The entertainment of the night was a steel drum player as well as a group of hula dancers. Many of the residents got up to learn the dances with them.”

All photos courtesy of The Renaissance

Six of the student volunteers: back row, from left, Luke Terry, Brooke Johnson; front row, from left, Courtney Teague, Rachel Wittig, Iris Gadsden, Brooke Weathers