Michaela Fleming and Gabby Leonard
During the holiday season, many people want to serve. But in downtown Medfield every Thursday, all year long, two Montrose School juniors lead a group of students to visit friends – not other young people, but their elderly friends at the Thomas Upham House, a family-owned nursing facility near campus.
Gabby Leonard and Michaela Fleming founded this volunteer club two years ago. “We go in order to put smiles on the residents’ faces,” said Michaela, adding that the girls like to share the extra joy that young people have.
Since Michaela and Gabby began the club, many other Montrosians have joined them. Some weeks, as many as 15 students pay a visit to Upham House. Many girls have formed special relationships with particular residents, and they will ask others to check up on their special friends when they have to miss a Thursday visit.
“Gabby and Michaela founded this club as 9th grade students and have been faithfully attending almost every week ever since,” said faculty advisor Kate Cusack. “The activities director at Upham House is always so grateful that the girls come every week. He has mentioned frequently how much the residents love their visits.”
Most weeks, the club members spend about an hour with the elderly residents, playing games, giving manicures, doing crafts or just chatting. Next week, before Christmas, the girls plan to sing Christmas carols with the residents.
“I love seeing the girls so excited to visit on Thursday afternoons,” said Dean of Students Esther Keeley. “They greet the elderly residents with such warmth and affection as they listen to their stories of the past and patiently answer their questions. These young women recognize and respect the true dignity of each individual.”