Campus Spotlight: SAGE

Kristin McGrath
Kristin McGrath

While many students are recovering from their Friday nights, members of Service Across Generations (SAGE) are where the real party’s at: the University City Manor Nursing Home. Every Saturday morning, the group hangs out and occasionally rocks out with the nursing home’s residents.

One of Campus Y’s 16 programs, SAGE engages in weekly one-on-one interactions with the nursing home’s residents and incorporates music, arts and crafts and other activities into its visits.

“The residents are really cool,” said senior Jeff Chou, program leader for SAGE. “Some of them get jealous when we go to visit other residents. They like to show us off to their friends. I think they all really enjoy our visits because a lot of them don’t have family who can visit them or don’t have family at all.”

Each of the residents received private concerts Saturday. With Chou on guitar and the group sharing vocals, residents enjoyed the likes of the Backstreet Boys, Matchbox 20 and Jewel.

“I like singing for the residents, and I’ve played the fiddle for them before,” said junior Nicole White. “The reaction we get really differs from resident to resident. Some of them really enjoy it. Some of them start laughing when we sing.”

The first stop was Jim’s room. Jim was enjoying a breakfast of Hershey’s chocolate and watching a Humphrey Bogart film when SAGE arrived. Due to a considerable generation gap, the group was unable to comply with his request for tunes by Woody Guthrie but managed a rousing rendition of one of Jim’s favorites, Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again.”

After treating his visitors to his own cover of Arlo Guthrie’s “Gates of Eden,” Jim wished the volunteers “good luck on exams” as they moved on to their next stop on the tour.

“It’s really fun talking with the residents,” said senior Crystal Garcia. “After talking to them you get close to them, and they’ll tell you how much you’ve brightened their day. It’s fun getting to know them, because they’re very interesting people, and they say very interesting things.”

Case in point: Miss Walker was anything but a passive audience. After the musicians struggled through a Howie Day song, she directed them through “Amazing Grace” and then offered some helpful advice.

“That was wonderful, but I didn’t hear you, OR you,” said Miss Walker, pointing out two of the singers. “When you all come back, you two there are doing solos or a duet for me.”

SAGE’s next gig was with Miss Clay, who was delighted to forgo Saturday morning cartoons for some live music. Dolled up in her spring finest and a pair of slippers, Miss Clay was serenaded with “Brown Eyed Girl.”

Miss Clay was sure to let the volunteers know how much she enjoyed her concert.

“If you don’t come back, I’ll have to come looking for you,” she said. “You’ll turn the corner and there I’ll be.”

Throughout her two years of involvement with SAGE, senior Lakeesha Moore has particularly enjoyed her time with the perpetually lively Miss Clay.

“Miss Clay calls us her children,” said Moore. “We call her Mamma Clay. It’s simple things like that, simple pleasures that I’ll remember.”

With just enough time for one last gig, it was obvious where the volunteers needed to go for their finale.

“We better head over to Miss Mosbey’s room so she doesn’t start yelling,” said Chou. “Sometimes we hear her yelling ‘where are they?’ before we even get to her.”

Although blind, Miss Mosbey recognized all the regular visitors and made sure they were seated comfortably before she made her request for “just any kind of song.” SAGE sang a late-90s medley of Three Doors Down and Jewel before she began to doze off during Third Eye Blind.

After graduating this spring, Moore will fondly remember her involvement with SAGE.

“I think it’s great that the residents allow us to spend time with them,” said Moore. “The fact that we’re able to come into their space, talk with them, get to know them, and sing to them is really a privilege.”

For those interested in becoming involved with SAGE, contact Lakeesha Moore at [email protected].

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