Well into its third decade of lifting the spirits of local senior citizens, Huntington High School’s Grandfriends club is just as determined to make a difference in the community as it was the day the organization was founded.
The teenagers who comprise the club’s members go out of their way to work with senior citizens in a variety of forums and at various events throughout the year. The most recent outreach effort came with the Grandfriends went caroling at the Atria Huntington senior living residence on Beverly Road.
The club is led by a triumvirate of exceptional teenagers in Alexis Aviles, Angelica Hernandez and Ashlyn Case, who share the title of club president.
The recent caroling adventure was filled with lots of laughter, tears of joy and smiles all around. Club members met faculty advisors Suzi Biagi and Camille DeCanio at Atria Huntington wearing “ugly sweaters.” Everyone was excited to be performing and the group sang its collective heart out for the senior citizens in the audience.
“This was my fourth and final year carolling with Grandfriends,” Ms. Case said. “It has been such a pleasure bringing smiles and cheer to seniors in our community! We always have so much fun, and we love to give back during the holidays.”
The teenagers sang many holiday favorites including “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Let it Snow” and “Oh Holy Night.”
With each song, the assembled voices grew louder as the residents and the carollers became more comfortable singing. “At times the students walked around the great hall assisting the residents with their reading and encouraging them to sing along,” Mrs. Biagi said.
Song packets lovingly prepared by Grandfriends club officers were distributed and filled with all of lyrics, making it easy for everyone to participate.
“It was an amazing experience being able to do two of my favorite things at once; helping others by spreading Christmas cheer and singing at the top of my voice,” said senior Kiara Rafailan, who spent a great deal of time organizing the event with Ms. Case and Ms. Hernandez. “My heart was filled with love and joy when I saw all of the smiles forming on the many faces. I have had the time to reflect on everything because it’s my last year and I wish I would’ve joined Grandfriends earlier in my high school years.”
Freshmen Ashley Geneo and Yanira Rivera Ronquillo expressed similar reactions. “It was fun and interesting to see the residents singing along and being happy after we starting singing with them,” Ms. Genao said. “Such a small act of kindness made so many people happy.”
“Seeing their faces when we arrived brought a lot of joy and showed me how happy they were to receive something so little like just us singing to them,” Ms. Rivera Ronquillo said. “I can’t wait to do it again.”