WOU students are dedicated to making a difference in their communities. This summer, as part of a community service project, four students committed to brightening the days of residents of Emerald Pointe Senior Living Community in Keizer. The four students, Hannah Childress, Derek Holdsworth, Keyna Hurd, and Sheyenne White, sent letters and flowers to the residents, letting them know someone is thinking of them during the isolating times of the COVID-19 pandemic. We spoke with Holdsworth about his experience with the project, and what it meant to him, as well as the community.
Holdsworth, who is a senior Psychology major, spoke about the very close connection between the project and family: “Personally for me, this project was very rewarding. I have an elderly grandmother back home in Virginia who raised me growing up. I understand what it’s like for her to feel lonely and closed off during this hard time. I think all of my teammates could sympathize with this scenario as we all have loved ones that we are worried about. It truly is a tough time, but the best thing to do is to get through it together.”
The students wrote and signed letters addressed to residents, and then got into contact with a local florist to provide the flowers. Holdsworth said the project was a team effort, and there was a great response from the residents at Eagle Pointe. He mentioned that it was “the talk of the town” at the living facility. Holdsworth noted that his favorite part of the project was the joy it brought to the community. He specifically thanked his teammates for their involvement with the project, and noted the flowers they gifted the residents of Emerald Pointe were beautiful.
Not only did this project brighten the days of the residents, but it also helped Holdsworth himself. He mentioned that “COVID has taken a toll on [him] mentally and emotionally as it has with many others,” but working with this team helped him stay diligent and focused throughout the term.
As for advice he has for WOU students looking to make a difference in their communities, Holdsworth suggests finding what they’re passionate about first, and then finding a way to enact change in the community through that passion. He mentioned that no matter what students do, so long as it is positive, “the community will appreciate it, especially in these trying times.”