ROTC cadets share holiday cheer with retirees
Alan McDonald, retired Air Force chief, loves joining in on the activities with The Village at Incarnate Word (The Village). When Texas A&M University-San Antonio ROTC cadets stopped by for a visit on Nov. 15, this was a special day for the 26-year Air Force veteran.
The cadets were helping the residents of the assisted living facility make greeting cards to send to friends and family for the upcoming holidays. McDonald said he enjoyed having the cadets there to interact with him and the other military retirees and residents.
The day was coordinated by ROTC cadet Sierra Butcher, an MBA student, and Nelly Gonzalez-Martinez, life enrichment coordinator for The Village. Gonzalez-Martinez said the facility does all kinds of events to keep the residents of the The Village engaged and entertained.
“We have a monthly calendar with activities for residents including fitness, spiritual and social entertainment,” Gonzalez-Martinez said. “The idea is to focus on the whole person.”
Barbara Booke, a 6-year resident of the The Village, was taking part in the day’s activities along with her caregiver Veronica Ruiz. Booke’s husband was in the United States Air Force, so Ruiz said Booke really enjoyed spending the afternoon with the cadets and making the military themed greeting cards. The cards were beautifully crafted Thanksgiving and Christmas cards provided by the ROTC, featuring the A&M-SA logo and photos of army soldiers.
Since Booke suffers from Alzheimer’s, she needed some assistance making her card. This was part of the goal for the day, assisting the residents with making their cards. Cadet Amanda Gonzales, freshman kinesiology major, said many of the residents might need assistance with their cards due to age or health issues.
“Cadet Butcher wanted us to be able to help the residents because a lot of them couldn’t write, so that was an activity we could do,” Gonzales said. “We could help them make the cards.”
Cadet Butcher is a caregiver for one of the residents of the The Village, which is how she found out about the facility and began coordination of the event with Gonzalez-Martinez. Butcher said part of her leadership training program is planning and facilitating events like this and giving back to a community that gave so much.
Many of the residents of the The Village are retired military or family of military personnel. Other residents are retired nuns who taught at the University of Incarnate Word. To help facilitate the event, Butcher enlisted the help of a few other A&M-SA cadets:
Amanda Gonzales, Kinesiology major
Miles Eggleston, history major
Julyen Zamora, kinesiology major, pre-physical therapy
Gabriel Vasquez, computer science major
Joshua Quesada, computer science major
Alonzo Soto, computer science major
Sister Alice Holden, an 83-year-old retired nun and resident of the The Village, stopped by the table to talk to cadets Gonzales and Quesada. She was dressed in patriotic red, white and blue, with a sporty visor on top of her head. She took a few minutes to write a short poem in honor of the cadets on the poster board they set out next to the greeting cards.
McDonald stopped by the table again and talked about some of the other activities the facility has been hosting for the residents. He said they just celebrated their November birthdays the previous night. He said each month all of the ladies and gentlemen who have a birthday in that month are recognized individually and each has a chance to get up and speak at the celebration if he or she chooses.
“Thanks to the new CEO, there’s a lot of events like this to enhance our experience,” McDonald said. “It’s a big wonderful family.”
Gonzales said most of the residents who participated in the day’s activities wanted to write the cards themselves, but she did help one of the residents with her card. She said she helped a retired nun, with arthritis in her hands who was also unable to see, write out her card.
“They were all just so nice and sweet,” Gonzales said. “I didn’t know what to expect going in, but I just like being around them. They make your day.”
Click here for more information about A&M-SA’s ROTC program.
Click here for more information about The Village at Incarnate Word (UIW Village).