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Wisecrackers, Divas & Dancers – Elderly Lott Residents I Love

Posted on March 4, 2019 by Catholic Charities Admin  |  Share

A Grateful Volunteer’s Perspective


Linda singing "Quando, Quando, Quando"

By Mary Kate Skehan

Catholic Charities Junior Board Volunteer Committee Co-Chair

For me, visiting Lott Residence, an assisted living facility for the elderly affiliated with Catholic Charities NY, feels like visiting family, although the residents don’t remember me despite the many times I’ve seen them over the years.

But I remember them.

  • Walter, an inveterate ladies’ man always ready with a wisecrack
  • Kathleen, an affectionate extrovert who loves to dance
  • Carmela, a glamorous, fun-loving diva
  • Bob and Rosa, the class couple

We’re the Grateful Ones

Volunteers from Catholic Charities NY’s Junior Board who come to Lott are always struck by how much joy these residents experience from something as simple as a song and a cup of punch, and how enthusiastically they express their gratitude. Really, we’re the grateful ones, for having the chance to get to know these joyful, funny, energetic, amazing New Yorkers.

Volunteers from Catholic Charities Junior Board have visited Lott Residence on Central Park East at 108th quarterly for the past 4 years to throw parties for the residents on Saturday afternoons. We’ve had all kinds of themes: Casino Night; Senior Prom; Cinco de Mayo; Happy Hour. Sometimes we bring games or activities to match the theme, but we’ve found the residents like musical entertainment best: they want to sing and dance along to the songs from their youths in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

Shake What Your Mama Gave You

Last week on March 2nd our theme was “St. Patrick’s Day” and the rec room was decked out accordingly. A team of seven Junior Board volunteers brought party favors, drinks, snacks, and most importantly, our dancing shoes. Lott hired live musical entertainment: a lounge singer named Linda who shimmies around in a sequined costume with stilettos and belts the classics to the stylings of her pianist, “Dr. Dave.” The residents love Linda’s sassy style: she gets them up and dancing by shouting, “Shake what your mama gave you!”

Quando, Quando, Quando

About 25 residents came to our party. After the volunteers helped them to their seats and offered snacks and drinks, the show began. Linda and Dr. Dave opened with “Quando, Quando, Quando,” a song I had never heard before I started volunteering at Lott but now know well. The residents love it! Only a handful of them can get on their feet, but even those who are bound to their chairs wave their arms and sing every word. Other crowd pleasers: “Hit the Road, Jack”; “Hound Dog”; “The Gang’s All Here”; “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”.

The volunteers’ job while Linda performs is to make sure everyone has refreshments and dance partners, which is the best part. Sometimes you can convince a reluctant resident to get up and dance for just one song, and they often surprise you by knowing pretty complicated steps: after all, they grew up in a time when people really *learned* to dance.

Dance What’s in Your Heart

One resident I danced with, Genevieve, seemed very confident on the floor, and I asked if she had trained as a dancer. She was a professional once, it turns out. I confessed I’d never taken a dance lesson and she said, “The main thing is to do what’s in your heart. The problem is that people look around at other people and try to do what they do, but that never works. You have to dance how you feel in your heart.”

Words to live by!