Daily Point of Light # 2777 Sep 27, 2004

The Texas Department of Human Services recently named Meghan and Lauren Parnell, Senior Girl Scouts with the San Jacinto Council and members of the Delta Chapter Home School National Honor Society, the “Outstanding Volunteers of the Year.” The residents of Heartland’s Assisted Living Center nominated the Parnell sisters multiple times for their willingness to give of their time, talents and treasures to enrich the lives of others, namely those of senior citizens. Lauren and Meghan volunteer at Heartland’s regularly; the residents adore the girls and look forward to their visits.

Three years ago the Parnell Girl Scouts began visiting the Assisted Living Center and started exploring areas where they could be of use. Initially, they called bingo games on Monday afternoons and painted the nails of the residents. They spent time refreshing some residents on how to send loved ones e-mails or just reading from a chapter book. As they got to know the residents better, they noticed their need for independence. The Activities Director, Donna Martin, along with Meghan and Lauren, set up “The Country Store.” The store is stocked with items from food to hair bows. Residents can purchase these items on their own and never leave the facility.

Resident who enjoy getting out can now enjoy a shopping trip to Wal-Mart on a monthly basis. The girls, with others from the Honor Society, meet at Wal-Mart and await the transport bus. As the residents alight, the girls assist them with shopping by pushing the shopping cart or wheelchair, reaching tall shelves and just looking around without rushing the residents. After the shopping, the girls sit and talk to the seniors while they eat at the restaurant inside of the store.

As part of the Council Puppetry Troupe, Meghan and Lauren brought the life-like puppets to the residents of Heartland. Kids on the Block puppets Michael, in a wheel chair, and Renaldo, a blind puppet, are real favorites of the residents. At the end of the show, the girls brought the puppets to visit the seniors who spoke to the puppets directly. They seem to relate to the trials and limitations of the 3-4 foot puppets.

Christmas this year brought a whole new meaning to giving. The girls decided to have their Honor Society holiday party with their friends at Heartland’s Assisted Living Center. They brought their treasures of tree ornaments, some purchased and some homemade to decorate, along with the residents, their tree in the activity room. The girls recruited members of their Honor Society to give of their talents. The residents were entertained for more than 90 minutes with violin, piano, and dulcimer music. A group sing-a-long with accompaniment by one of the students playing the guitar and a very interesting Highland dance brought hand clapping and toe tapping – showing music has no age. The group served the residents punch and cake and cookies and the spirit of the season was truly felt.