Memory books: Michelle Okinedo ’17

Posted by Rebecca Moore - 26 April, 2017

Michelle with scrapbook Michelle, with one of the scrapbooks she created, photographed by Ellie Walker '18

Every Thursday afternoon I lead a group of students to Signature Healthcare to serve as company for the seniors who don’t receive frequent visitors. I have been going to the nursing home since I was very young. Even when I don't feel like it, I find myself there because I've made a commitment to visit the patients on a regular basis.

Last year, I received a Youth Leadership Grant from Randolph that allowed me to pursue a community service project. This idea was inspired by a similar project done in Georgia. My favorite part of the project is when we tell the seniors about what happened in our week or day in school because that helps trigger their memories of when they were younger. My friends and I secretly take notes on our conversations, ranging in detail from their favorite movie to the name of their first pet, to compile them onto the pages of personalized scrapbooks that we’ll later present to them.

I needed this project to be more than teenagers volunteering for the sake of self-gratification; this project was about practicing the simple art of making someone feel valued.

When developing this project, I constantly asked myself what I'd want if I ever found myself in a nursing home, and I realized that I would need to have pride. I needed this project to be more than teenagers volunteering for the sake of self-gratification; this project was about practicing the simple art of making someone feel valued.

Loneliness is deemed insignificant compared to “bigger issues” in the world and often gets brushed aside. We show the seniors that we care not only by our words or even our actions. By incorporating pieces of their lives into scrapbooks, we let them know that their stories are not forgotten.

Portrait of Michelle by Ellie Walker ’18 for an Advanced Photography assignment in editorial photography:  “For my photograph of Michelle, I was inspired by this one photographer, Dean Bradshaw—he had a high vantage point picture of a man who had all these knives around his head—and by another photograph by John Andre Aasen, of a woman in newspaper with a newspaper wallpaper surrounding her.”

This story is from a series of thumbnail portraits in the forthcoming Spring 2017 Randolph Magazine,  in a feature titled "Learning in the Community: Transformative Experiences."

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Topics: community service, Off-campus, photography, profile, service, People


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