It’s no secret that Bridgewater Retirement Community is not an island. We pride ourselves on our interactions with the young people and faculty of Bridgewater College and nearby James Madison University, as well as the Town of Bridgewater and local churches.
Our residents and staff have much to offer, and we are thrilled when people in the community at large offer us their time and love.
One way we share our energy for life comes every Easter. For years, students from John Wayland Elementary School have visited BRC. It’s a great way to connect people who might not otherwise meet, and the visit becomes a much-anticipated annual event for the kids and our residents.
For the pre-K and kindergarten students, we are hosting an Easter Egg Hunt complete with story time read by Bridgewater residents and a visit from the Easter Bunny (a Bridgewater volunteer whose identity is a closely held secret).
Teachers have told us how excited their students get in the run-up to the visit. But the anticipation of an Easter egg hunt pales in comparison to what their older schoolmates experience.
For fifth graders at Wayland, this visit to Bridgewater is a culmination of getting to know BRC residents. If they started school at Wayland, they’ve visited several times, looking for Easter eggs and doing things like performing in a recorder concert.
Earlier this year, these boys and girls—about a hundred fifth graders in all—interviewed residents in Assisted Living and the Nursing Households in Huffman Health Center. Their question? “What would you like in your Easter basket?”
The beauty and pleasure of giving their time and energy to our residents are not lost on the children. “Teachers always say how excited they are,” Laura Powell, BRC’s Volunteer Services Director, reports. “You can tell kids are excited. They want to make these baskets and get them to residents.”
Once the fifth graders have completed their roughly 200 interviews, other volunteers, such as Delta Gamma sorority at James Madison University, shop for basket items using the money raised by the Bridgewater Foundation and assemble over 200 custom Easter baskets.
This year, the Foundation raised $10,475 for the Easter Basket Project from 162 donors, according to Development Officer Missy Stover.
Chocolate Easter bunnies are a popular item, as are personal care products. Some residents jump at the chance for fun snacks like Cool Ranch Doritos. Others love receiving gift certificates to the hair salon or the Cottage Gifts store.
But by far the highlight of the Easter Basket project is the smiles on the faces of students and residents alike. “I’ve had residents tell me this is their first time getting an Easter basket,” recalls Powell. “It brings tears to their eyes—not only the kindness of the kids but their excitement and surprise at wanting to come back and present their baskets.”
On April 17, the fifth graders deliver goody-filled baskets to the residents they interviewed. Younger students come for the Easter Egg Hunt and festivities.
The pre-schoolers and kindergartners will get Easter eggs and stories with smiles, but they’ll also get something else—an introduction to our residents, some of whom may be telling them about their ideal Easter basket in the future.
Celebrating Volunteers. April is national volunteer month, and a great opportunity to celebrate the people and organizations that provided approximately 35,000 hours of volunteer service on our campus in the past year. Learn more.