West Springfield High School Newspaper

The Oracle

Spartan senior Will Cheshire aids senior citizens at Greensprings

Helen Heaton, Managing Editor

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It’s easy to come up with excuses for not volunteering: too much schoolwork, too many extracurricular, and, most of all, too little time. Yet five hours a week, senior Will Cheshire proves there is always time to give back to the community.

He began volunteering at Greenspring, the local retirement community, every Sunday at his mother’s suggestion, but he has found it rewarding despite the hard work it requires—and it is indeed hard work.

“He’s working harder his senior year than his junior year, which is not what people do at all,” said his younger brother, sophomore Max Cheshire. In part, this is because Will Cheshire takes many AP classes, but he is also given major responsibilities at Greenspring.

“I’ll do activities, trivia–I’ll do cooking sessions,” said Cheshire. “I also serve and feed them [the residents] lunch. I’ll actually help them eat it if it needs be.”

Perhaps his most important task, however, is serving the emotional needs of residents.

“It turns out a lot of them are lonely, which is something that kind of struck me as a surprise,” said Cheshire. Most residents stay isolated in their rooms and receive few visits from relatives and friends.

“Generally, they want anyone just to be there. Having anyone spend time with them is really important to them,” said Cheshire. “That’s one of the things that even if you’ve got money, you’ve got all the activities Greenspring has, and a good lifestyle–if you don’t have family or friends or people around you, it’s not that enjoyable.” After witnessing the loneliness at the retirement community, Cheshire, a member of the WS orchestra, created a program to bring high school students to play for Greenspring residents.

“Sometimes we get to play classic music, stuff they absolutely love. It’s kind of interesting just to see how important it is to have interaction with them,” said Cheshire.

As the only volunteer on Greenspring’s dementia floor, Cheshire has had his fair share of interesting interactions residents. He ran from an elderly man attacking with a fork, tried to talk with a woman who forgot English and spoke only her native French, and reasoned with a man who used other people’s trashcans as toilets. However, his most demanding challenge is dealing with the loss that is sadly inevitable when working with the elderly.

“You’ll go there one week, people you’ve known for six months, maybe even two years, they’re gone the next week you come back–and you didn’t even know about it,” said Cheshire.  At times, he has been asked to speak at remembrance ceremonies for residents who passed away.

“I’ve never even had to do that for my own family–speak about loss and how important they were,” said Cheshire, “That was really hard for me, to mature, to be able to talk about other people and the impacts they had not only on me but on the other people around us.”

However, witnessing so much death has given Cheshire new perspective and even positivity.

“Going there and seeing how the old people really want companionship–to kind of be with others in the few moments they have left–is kind of empowering,” said Cheshire. “It also makes me want to live a healthier life myself and interact more with people.”

 

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West Springfield High School Newspaper
Spartan senior Will Cheshire aids senior citizens at Greensprings