SunnyBrook assisted-living resident Doris Burdine (left) begins to put together a puzzle with her Kuemper Catholic Middle School “care buddies” (from left) Isaac Evans, Jared Hausman and Garret Christensen Friday afternoon. This was the third time the students visited SunnyBrook and will be the last time before the school year ends.
SunnyBrook assisted-living resident Doris Burdine (left) begins to put together a puzzle with her Kuemper Catholic Middle School “care buddies” (from left) Isaac Evans, Jared Hausman and Garret Christensen Friday afternoon. This was the third time the students visited SunnyBrook and will be the last time before the school year ends.

May 23, 2018

Kuemper Catholic Middle School students filled rooms and tables, crowding around their buddies for what might be the last time.

Beginning in November, Kuemper students began visiting residents at SunnyBrook assisted-living facility to play games, sit and talk, and most importantly — create friendships.

Friday was the third time Kuemper seventh- and eighth-graders visited SunnyBrook, and by then, they knew the routine.

Kayla Venner a middle-school language arts teacher at Kuemper, has been taking her students to SunnyBrook for the “care buddy” program since November. The program is designed to connect students with assisted-living residents at SunnyBrook and to get the students involved in Carroll life outside of school.

She said that next year the project will continue, but only with eighth-graders.

Every time the students prepare for the visit, they are excited, Venner said.

“They talk about it a lot at school — the funny stories that come up or the things they learn, like when the residents were their age and they talk about current events, so they had things like that to relate to,” Venner said.

She added that the program also introduces students to service projects and shows them how easy it is to just spend time with someone they may have never met otherwise.

“It lets them know that service is easy, like playing cards,” Venner said. “There’s no thinking. There doesn’t have to be manual labor. For many of these residents, it’s what they look forward to. It kind of brightens their day.”

Paulette Lingle, life enrichment coordinator at SunnyBrook, said she knows the residents enjoy having the students come by and hopes to have new residents in the fall sign up for the program.

They’re awesome kids,” she said. “They are all well-mannered. I cannot complain. They are not rowdy; they are mindful of time. It’s awesome to watch.”