How to Talk to Your Great-Grandmother: Student Gets Blast from the Past

accounting programEricka Gassen, a student at Globe University-Eau Claire, loves visiting with senior citizens–so much so, that she decided to engage with seniors for her college service-learning project. She calls her visits a “Blast!” as she learns information about the past from residents at Heatherwood Assisted Living Home. 

Ericka is an accounting program student.  She chose this as her service-learning project this quarter because she worked in a nursing home for four years. Ericka states, “I can still say it was my favorite job. I love to hear stories and get opinions from my elders.  They have experienced so much in their lives. I can trust their advice.”  

Bethany Shuda is the activity director of Heatherwood Assisted Living Home. Bethany welcomes students from Globe University and from the community to volunteer with the residents.
In her recent visits, Ericka provided hand massages and manicures to the residents. “Yesterday we did ‘sittercise’ (sitting excercise). It was a lot of fun! I got to hear some old but great songs and join them in scarf dancing!”

accounting programEricka adds, “I heard a lot of different stories while I was there and felt very welcomed. I heard an amazing story about one of the residents who came over [to the United States] during WWII and that her family had nothing. Her brother went to war and did not return.  It was a sad story but she is very proud of him for what he did. She also told me about the day her mother gave her a quarter and she got to go to the beauty salon to get her hair washed and dried. It made her feel rich! Can you believe a quarter paid for that back then?”

Ericka considers the best part of the visits the fact that they “made me feel like I was sitting and talking to my great grandmother again. She passed last year, a month before she would have been 101. I LOVED hearing her tell all the stories about my grandma and her siblings growing up!” 

Ericka enjoyed the experience so much that she plans to take her son with her and to continue visiting the residents.

“I heard a lot of different stories while I was there and felt very welcomed,” Ericka says. “I enjoyed their stories as much as they enjoyed mine.”  

accounting programFor Ericka and the residents, it was truly a blast from the past.