September 23, 2004

Emily Kiddoo Named Missouri Teen Volunteer of the Year

A reception was held September 17 at the Scotland County Care Center to honor Emily Kiddoo of Memphis, who recently was named Teen Volunteer of the Year in the State of Missouri. The freshman at Truman State University was nominated by the nursing home for her work at the facility. Kiddoo volunteered her time to visit with the residents and began an email program helping these individuals communicate with friends and family electronically.

Emily Kiddoo has been such an inspiration for the Care Center, said administrator Kathy Shoup. Her youth and enthusiasm wins the hearts of the residents and staff with first contact.

Emily was very active in high school. She was a four-year member of Student Council, serving her final year as president. She was the voting delegate at state convention for the Future Business Leaders of America. Emily served as a leader for the Teens at Tobacco Use Organization, vice president of the National Honor Society, and business manager of the yearbook.

In addition to her service at the Care Center, Emily volunteers her time with the local Food Pantry and organized Drive-By Rakings to help elderly people in the community get their fall yard work done. She also has been a Relay for Life team member for three years.

After attending the Missouri Scholars Academy in the summer of 2002 I felt compelled to become more involved in my community, Kiddoo said. I live in a rural area with a large percentage of older people. Bridging the gap between this older generation and my generation became my main goal.

E-mail is a media widely used in my generation, but not shared with the nursing home aged residents of my community. Because technology is so rapidly changing, the family life has changed too. With more and more distance becoming common between each generation, the residents needed a way to shorten those distances, and e-mail is the media that provides that option.

Kiddoo began her project in late November 2002. She met with the administration of the nursing home and talked to them about her ideas.

I arrived at the Care Center after school on certain days of the week and the office staff printed off the e-mails to be distributed, she said. To get residents interested in the program I put an article in the nursing home newsletter, but to my prevail, no new messages. In January, I held an information session and a hand-full of residents came. The next week, three e-mails came! Finally, I promoted the event through our local newspaper to make the community aware of this available program. Suddenly, e-mails were pouring in

Emily said the program averaged six e-mails a week. She would pick them up from the administrators office then deliver them to the individual residents rooms.

I spent time visiting with each resident and send back any responses they may have to the letters they received, Kiddoo stated. This project has had a positive impact not only on my life, but also on the lives of the Care Center residents and their families and friends. They can communicate with family members and friends that no longer live in this area, or are not able to write because of crippling effects of arthritis.

As for family members, their time may be limited on how many visits they can make to the Care Center. By using e-mail they can still keep in touch with words, pictures, poetry or maybe even a joke to bring a smile. Five nursing home residents regularly send and receive messages. One woman is able to send messages to her grandson who lives in Australia, which is extra special to her because she can no longer write letters. Besides the regulars, other residents receive letters, cards, or pictures off the computer.

Emily has insured that the program will continue even though she is a full-time college student in Kirksville. Her younger sister, Hannah, a sophomore at SCR-I, has taken over the service.

Since beginning my project, I have learned to further appreciate the value of words; whether written or spoken, words are powerful, Emily said. When I go into the nursing home, I smile at everyone, and when I deliver mail I try to make conversation. Soon after I started my project I realized I may be the only company this person has all week, so I make my time with them count.

To send an e-mail to a resident at the Care Center email scnhd@nemr.net.

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