Once a week, Senior Caitlin Evans picks up a group of students from DPC at 5:50. The students hop into her blue jeep and head down Route 5 to the Chesapeake Shores Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center. Caitlin, a member of For Goodness Sake, the umbrella club that sponsors the trip, is the project leader of the trips and has been since she was a sophomore. Last week, Jeff Meisgeier, Kat Painter, and I joined Caitlin as she drove to Chesapeake Shores.
Every Thursday residents are brought into the game room where they often play Keno Bingo with St. Mary’s students. Last week, several residents were dispersed throughout the room, participating in different activities. Jeff noticed a woman sitting by herself with a Scrabble board and went to join her. Caitlin and Kat were asked to decorate a cart by Agnes Price, the woman who directs the night’s activities. Agnes Price has been working at Chesapeake Shores for twenty-two years.
I went to join Jeff at the Scrabble table, where I met Elaine. “She tells great stories,” called Caitlin from across the room. Unfortunately, the soft spoken woman was not in the mood to tell stories that night. She was too preoccupied with easily winning Scrabble.
Elaine did reveal the fact that she was born in Kenya, where she lived for seventeen years before moving to England. Caitlin later told me that Elaine had previously been in an abusive relationship. She still wears the scars on her forehead.
At one point in the night, Caitlin and Kat are joined by James Holt. James is the only one Caitlin has continuously seen since she began volunteering at Chesapeake Shores three years ago. “He’s a flirt,” Caitlin warns me as I approach.
Sixty-five year old James Holt enjoys having the college students visit him. “We need more girls like y’all to come here,” he tells me. Holt is a big fan of Maryland sports teams, having lived in Maryland his whole life. In fact, he lived right around the college. After being introduced to James, he points at Kat and informs me: “that’s my doll baby.”
“Everyone is his doll baby,” calls Vickie Ryce from another table.
Vickie Ryce is a “resident and volunteer” at Chesapeake Shores. She was sitting at a table with two other residents, calling cards for a game called Poker-Keno. “I try to be a leader, to help everyone as I can,” she says. Apparently, she does this very well. The woman sitting on her right won Poker-Keno three games in a row. “I’m helping Rose win,” Vickie tells me.
Vickie enjoys seeing the St. Mary’s students every week as much the rest of the residents seem to. “It gives the residents something to look forward for on Thursday nights,” she says.
An hour passes quickly and the residents begin to head back to their rooms. Caitlin, Kat and I escort James back to him room. “Brooom Brooom” says Caitlin, echoed by James, as she weaves his wheelchair through the hallway. When we get to James’ room he shows us some of his pictures. First is one of himself at twenty-seven. The next is his wife, Florence, who comes to visit him every week.
“I wish I could walk you home” says James as we leave.
Caitlin and her volunteers will not be back to Chesapeake Shores until December. Cait hopes to have The Nightingale A Cappella perform for the residents on December 7th. She encourages anyone who has a free hour Thursday night to join her next trip. “It keeps things fun and interesting (for the residents),” she says. Any student who would like go to Chesapeake Shores can meet at DPC at 5:50. Just look for a blue Jeep.