Students Add Style to Nursing Home "Gals"

By Vincent Reda (February 28, 2007)

Jamie Tedesco with Helen Manville

Alexandra Eaton (right), president of UAlbany GlamourGals chapter, with Helen Manville.

As a junior at Townsend-Harris High School in Flushing, Queens, Alexandra Eaton would visit her grandmother regularly in a nearby nursing home, a place where many residents typically receive few visitors at all.

"I know how lonely it can get there," said Eaton, now a UAlbany sophomore. She jumped at a chance to join her high school's chapter of GlamourGals, a then two-year-old national nonprofit organization begun by a Long Island high schooler. The chapters, organized at high schools and colleges, dispatch troupes of female students into nursing homes to provide facials, manicures and makeovers to elderly women residents — and, just as important, to interact.

"For me, back home in high school, it became a way not only to be close to my grandmother during the GlamourGals visits, but to give back to the community," said Eaton.

As a freshman at UAlbany last spring, Eaton, along with her three Indian Quad suitemates and fellow Presidential Scholars, began to formulate a campus chapter. Temporarily recognized by the national organization, about a half dozen GlamourGals made their first visit to the Daughters of Sarah nursing home on Washington Avenue, and were welcomed heartily.

Alexandra Eaton with Celia Nelson

Alexandra Eaton (left) with Celia Nelson.

This fall, Eaton and her cohorts put up flyers for an interest meeting, and drew enough interest to establish a full-fledged GlamourGals chapter at UAlbany. She is now president, her roommate Jamie Tedesco of Suffern co-president and treasurer and Lana Bunning of Hauppauge secretary. Two Saturdays each month, a group of GlamourGals ranging from 10 to 15 in number visit Daughters of Sarah, and spend two to three hours with the residents.

"They are a wonderful group of young ladies," said Shannon Lawler, Daughter of Sarah's director of recreation and volunteers. "The residents absolutely love it because the students spend the one-to-one time with them and — well, the residents just love to be spoiled. And they love to meet somebody young and get to talk with them — that's so special too.

"The students also take photos and make cards from them as gifts. Both the residents and the residents' families comment on how wonderful that is."

All the community-oriented GlamourGals find their own rewards in giving to the residents. "In my case, my grandmother is now three hours away," said Eaton. "But I am always thinking of her when we make our visits here."

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