Bay Path and the Senior Center- A Working Coalition!

When a squadron of seven energetic young college girls appears in your yard with rakes in hand, the results can be both astounding and endearing. So it was this spring afternoon, when I had opportunity to observe the fine works of these women. The result of a relatively new partnership between the Student Government Association of Bay Path College and the Longmeadow Council on Aging, this outreach program is in its second year, but faces an uncertain future.

Elderly and otherwise infirm individuals who had placed their names with the COA were scheduled for a session with a team of these young helping hands. The team leader of this particular group was senior Melissa Chabot, who hails from Belchertown. She was already apprised that the individual they would be calling on had raking to do, so she and six team-mates arrived, rakes in hand. They wasted no time. In fact, as the van pulled into the driveway and was still in motion, the girls began piling out and streamed out over the front lawn. When the raking was done they had time to spare, so they performed whatever other chores were asked of them. Two groups were happy to plant some Gladiolus bulbs, another cut back the Rubekia, and others did some touch-up work on a magnificent new handmade birdhouse and readied it for installation.


 Melissa, a business major, informed me that there were approximately six or seven other such teams on the road in Longmeadow that particular day. The program this year went on for two days, and the girls donate their time and energy gladly. Melissa's group had already done work at the Senior Center this day, and had one more residential stop to make today. At the Center, they performed not just gardening chores, but cleaned out closets and other inside jobs as well. Besides the work in Longmeadow, a couple of the girls have also done work for Habitat for Humanity in the Springfield Area.

In addition to their team leader, the members of this fine team consisted of freshmen Megan Snyder of Schenectady, NY and Melissa Hunt of Suffield; sophomores Jennifer Van Tassell and Crystal Vieu of Granby, Agatka Raczkowski of Holyoke, and Sarah Diskan of Oriskany, NY. In the one group there were pre-med, pre-vet, business, psychology and interior design majors. Secretarial school? NOT! Freshman Megan has not declared a major as yet, but seemed to wield an artist's brush with no lack of conviction! Jessica and Crystal are old friends from Granby and have worked together at a greenhouse. Both clearly exhibit the salutary effects of fresh air and clean country living. I think their gladiolus will look just beautiful in a month or so! Perhaps they will come back to inspect the fruits of their labor. I am sure they would be welcome!

Sources at the Longmeadow Senior Center tell me this program is still in its formative stages. Whether it will continue next year is yet to be determined. It is a fine program. Perhaps even our own high school will participate in this spirit of giving. Interested residents are urged to watch future Senior Center Newsletters for more information.

According to the Senior Center, the program gives the college an opportunity to say "Thank You" and "give back" to the community. With great young citizens like these women in our town, perhaps we should be the ones to say "Thank You!" For as long as I can remember, Bay Path College has been a respected and valued part of the Longmeadow community and their students and staff have acquired a reputation for comporting themselves in an exemplary fashion. Their campus, always well-maintained, is picturesque small town New England at its loveliest. Traditionally, it is considered quite an asset to have a college in one's town, and Bay Path is certainly no exception. The town has broadcast many televised meetings from their attractive facilities. Since its inception, it has grown from a small storefront operation on Springfield's Worthington Street into a full-fledged accredited college with a graduate program. Many others smaller institutions have since fallen by the wayside. This kind of growth and development doesn't happen by accident. There's a lot of planning, hard work and dedication involved.

At the conclusion of this year's stint, the girls will be feted with a barbecue on campus. They certainly deserve all of that and probably a whole bunch more!