When she was a high school freshman, budding entrepreneur and self-described people person Lauren Feyh needed an outlet, so she turned to volunteering. “I knew I wanted to work with older adults because I’ve always had a good relationship with my grandparents,” says Feyh, who is bright and gregarious. “I talk to people constantly,” a skill she says is one of her greatest assets.
Today Feyh holds a degree in Gerontology from Bowling Green State University and has dedicated herself both professionally and personally to working with older adults and nursing facilities. But that wasn’t part of her original plan, she switched her major from Applied Health Sciences to Gerontology after speaking with her advisor who recommended she try it out as a course of study. The Gerontology program requires students to complete 50 hours of volunteer service with older adults and it was during that time that Feyh came to a realization, “the more time I spent working with nursing facilities the more I realized the sector is underrepresented with volunteers… that was a turning point for me.”
During her junior year, the University’s Student Gerontology Association appointed Feyh as volunteer coordinator where she helped enforce the spirit of volunteerism among the group’s members. There, she helped more than 15 facilities in the Wood County area recruit volunteers for their efforts, “the job was right up my alley… In a two year period I went from coordinating 10 volunteers to 33.”
This past year, Feyh, a proponent of intergenerational programming, established a program that pairs up high school students with residents of nursing facilities. She cites her network of mentors and supporters as the group responsible for helping her implement and expand this effort. The program which lasts for eight weeks pairs up 50 area high school students with 40 residents at Willow Brook Christian Community Campus based on their interests and personality profiles. Each week, the groups meet up, chat and do activities. And, after the eight weeks are up, the pairs present what they have learned from each other in creative and compelling ways at a program banquet. “The smiles are the greatest reward,” says Feyh, whose hopes for this program are not only to bring younger volunteers into the fold but also to make the program fun and engaging so that the students continue to come, of their own volition.
Feyh believes that the key to success is “to go out and make yourself known.” And Lauren Feyh, today’s Daily Point of Light Award winner has been doing just that: making herself known through volunteer service within her community for more than five years. “I have the drive to go out and ask for help because I have first-hand experience.” Feyh aspires to become the CEO of her own nonprofit, geared towards intergenerational programs but, for now, “I want to get as many volunteers into the [nursing] facilities as possible.”