4-Hers from Abundant Harvest adopt residents at The Willows in Medina

Posted 5 October 2022 at 3:22 pm

Photos courtesy of 4-H program: Residents of The Willows wave to 4H club members outside the window during a Valentines visit outside the site.

Press Release, Kristina Gabalski, Orleans County 4-H program coordinator

MEDINA – This week is National 4-H Week and as part of their experience, 4-Hers “pledge their hands to larger service.”

Members of the Abundant Harvest 4-H Club are putting those words into action here in Orleans County.

Club leader Robyn Watts of Medina says she brought up the idea of a new community service project to club members last winter when Covid was still an issue. The club has a community vegetable garden during the spring and summer months, but Watts wanted to extend those efforts into the winter months.

“With about ten kids in our club, I thought about the many opportunities to contribute and thought The Willows was a place we could realistically handle financially and work wise,” Watts said.

She talked with staff at The Willows Adult Care Home in Medina who gave the green light to a Valentine celebration of gifts of candy made in an approved kitchen, and a window visit as visitors were not allowed inside at that time. The club made gnome candy jars and filled them with candy – chocolate molds, chocolate covered pretzels and peanut butter cups.

4Hers made these gnome candy holders residents at The Willows for the Valentine visit.

During the “window visit,” members held up a sign with their club name and waved to residents inside as they received their Valentine jars. The visit was a huge success.

At Eastertime, Abundant Harvest members created small Easter baskets with bunny suckers and chocolates.

“This time we were able to go inside and see them, which was a real treat,” Watts said.  “We had to wear masks and only two kids could pass (the baskets) out to residents.”

The club does not meet over the summer as the 4-H Fair and NYS Fair take up most of their time, but in September, they made bottle cap flower magnets for each resident. The club plans to deliver them the first week in October – National 4-H Week – and Watts said the youth are very excited to visit their “adopted grandparents again.”

Lily Botsford, left, and Robin Botsford make their magnets for residents.

Abundant Harvest member Molly Kroening, 8, of Knowlesville, said she enjoys interacting with residents of The Willows. “It makes them feel better, especially when we go visit them.”

“It makes them smile and brightens their day,” said 10-year-old Emily Kroll of Lyndonville.

Lily Botsford, 9, and her sister Robin Botsford, 11, both of Lyndonville, agree with Emily.  Lily said some of the residents may not get very many visitors and Robin added, “We do things for The Willows because it gives us joy to make them happy.”

“We like to visit The Willows with gifts because it makes them feel happy and loved,” 12-year-old Jackson McGrath of Medina said.

His sister, 15-year-old Makenzie, said the club decided to “adopt” the residents, “because during Covid, it had to be very depressing for the seniors there. They couldn’t have visitors so even when we could only do window visits, I’m sure it made them feel better, so we decided to continue to do it for different holidays.”

New York State 4-H Youth Development connects youth to hands-on learning and service opportunities to help them grow into competent, caring, contributing members of society.  Over 167,000 youth ages 5-19 in all counties and New York City are involved in 4-H programs.

Molly Kroening makes magnets for residents at The Willows.