MICAH Mentors, Oklahoma State Student Volunteer Center, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater
Fehintola Folarin, a candidate for a Master of Arts degree in English at OSU, has participated in the MICAH Mentor Program at OSU for a year. She says she was motivated to help vulnerable populations, especially the elderly, based on personal experience: the poor care her father received from health providers in her country.
From Joyce Montgomery, coordinator of the OSU Student Volunteer Center, Fehintola learned about a local senior living center, and knew right away that was where she wanted to volunteer. It was the right decision for her, she says, noting the warm reception she received there and the warm feeling she got from the smiles she elicited from the elderly residents. She especially recalls with fondness helping the residents create handmade ornaments for a Christmas tree.
Then, one day, she was involved in a serious auto accident. During her recovery, Fehintola worried that she’d never again get to work with the residents of the living center, play bingo with them, and continue to learn “one or two tricks about life” from them.
“Volunteering at the center has indeed changed my perception about life in so many ways,” she says. “The residents’ attitude toward life has taught me to embrace life, no matter how hard or tough it may get. No matter how exhausted or tired the residents were, they were always happy and ready to participate in activities and games: a case of making lemonade from lemons handed to them by life.”
About the Program: The MICAH Mentor Program at Oklahoma State University was started in 2010 in partnership with the MICAH Foundation Inc. in Ardmore. Designed to eradicate emotional poverty, this intergenerational program teaches students mentoring skills to interact with compassion and respect for the elderly. Students pay games, sing songs, have conversations, make garden and lawn improvements, read books, per form skits, paint fingernails and basically become a friend with the elderly in and outside residential care units.