Life’s a beach: Youth group helps stage beach party at the Lutheran Home at Trinity Oaks
By Susan Shinn
Nearly 3 dozen seniors hit the beach Tuesday, and they didn’t have to spend a dime on gasoline to get there.
With the help of the youth group from Our Savior Lutheran Church in Southern Pines, residents at the Lutheran Home at Trinity Oaks searched for shells, tossed beachballs, stuck their toes in the water and generally had a ton of fun at “Lutheran Home Beach.”
“We wanted to do mission work that’s a little bit different,” said the Rev. Scott Homesley, Our Savior’s pastor. “I think it’s been good for them to be able to interact with the residents here.”
Eleven middle-schoolers arrived Sunday evening to help the home’s activities department get ready for the event.
The kids and their two advisors were housed one of the cottages at Trinity Oaks.
They spent Monday making palm trees, photo boards ó those humorous scenes you can stick your head in for a picture ó and a giant cardboard castle.
“Most of us are art challenged, but we’ll do our best,” said Nickole Richard.
They tackled an 8-ton pile of sand, spreading it out with shovels and rakes to form the “beach.”
The enthusiastic group soon made the pile disappear.
Katie Friedman was so enthusiastic that she lost her flip-flop in the process.
A friend found it as the shoveling continued.
On Monday afternoon, youths spent time with the staff in sensitivity training, learning how to work with older adults. They took a flexercise class with residents.Then on Tuesday, they hit the beach along with the new friends they’d made.
Judging by the smiles on everyone’s faces, the morning was a huge success.
The small beach was studded with seashells, two wading pools, even a colorful umbrella.
Katie, wearing both flip-flops, made sandcastles with Courtney Groff, Ben Peterson and Aran Stalls.
Others helping were Evan Clayton, Katie Metcalf, Jaleigh Jensen, Emily Summers, Sarah Klug and Tanner Craig.
Aran pronounced the trip “awesome.”
“We got to help people around,” he said. “We got to talk to people and listen to their stories.”
Courtney, meanwhile, attempted to hula hoop.
“I’m usually really good at hula hoops but that one’s too small,” she said.
She also said that she had visited her grandmother in a nursing home, so she was used to the setting. “I’m also a Girl Scout. We’ve brought cookies and cards to nursing homes.”
She said that some members of the youth group were nervous about working with older adults, and some weren’t.
By Tuesday morning, they all seemed comfortable.
Events like this, Courtney said, “make older people happy.”
She liked seeing the smiles on their faces, she said.
Resident Margaret Mahaley sat in the shade with her friend Debbie Hillard. Mahaley said that she used to camp at the beach nearly every summer. She had tossed a small beach ball with some of the kids.
“I think it’s darling,” Mahaley said of the beach.
“They’ve done a tremendous job,” resident Earl Shillinglaw said.
The kids made time for fun on this trip. On Wednesday, they spent the day at Carowinds before returning home.
The Lutheran Home’s activities department is comprised of Brenda Zimmerman, Pat Norris and Lynn Carlyle.
Zimmerman said that the young people were well behaved throughout their visit.
“They’re great kids,” she said. “They’re just amazing.”