Senior year is often bittersweet for many. There is the excitement of special events, graduation, and new adventures but there is also the nervousness that comes with any major life change. For senior students this year, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the experience is uniquely theirs. Their year was cut short and many traditions were abruptly canceled. Wanting the best for their students, local communities have rallied together to recognize these achievements in new and creative ways. The communities at United Methodist Homes campuses have also taken this opportunity to also honor their graduating staff members and provide wisdom to senior students everywhere.

Activities, Dietary, and Admissions Departments collaborated at Wesley Village Campus in Pittston to present graduating seniors with Certificates of Achievement along with puzzle shaped key chains stating, “You are an essential piece of the puzzle”. A small graduation ceremony was held outside with “Pomp and Circumstance” playing on the outdoor speaker. Becky Mattei, Guest Services Coordinator, gathered words of wisdom from senior residents and created special Wisdom Jars for each of the graduates. Some key advice from residents includes:

  • “Words from my high school graduation address in Kentucky 1944: Seek. Sing.  Sacrifice. This was spoken during the time of WWII and never forgotten.  It was difficult then too.” -Peggy E., Independent Resident
  • “It is our responsibility to take care of one another.” -Nancy B., Independent Resident
  • “Speak up for yourself; speak up for someone else.” -Ann I., Independent Resident
  • “Always aim high, work hard, and care deeply about what you believe in.” -Mary M., Independent Resident
  • “Take vitamins.” -Emma J., Independent Resident

Residents at Tunkhannock Campus also wanted to share advice with graduating seniors. Activities Director, Terry White, enjoyed interviewing the residents and capturing the context of their sentiments. Words of Wisdom from Tunkhannock include:

  • “Keep working at what you want. NEVER give up!” – Helen B. took care of her family until age 36 then earned her nursing degree and practiced nursing for 18 years.
  • “Always keep your FAITH. Follow your dreams.” –Dolores H. worked alongside her father at a young age learning what it was to run a small business. Later in life, she & her husband began a small family-owned gas station that is currently celebrating its 3rd generation of operations.
  • “Use “YOUR” own talents to the Fullest! Do what suits “YOUR” personality! Enjoy who “YOU” are!” – Karl K. worked from a very young age making money to help his family. He became a successful businessman despite many odds & obstacles.

Across the border in NY, residents at Hilltop Campus wrote their words of wisdom on a dry erase board to be shared on social media. In addition, graduating staff was recognized with a special campus graduation ceremony. Graduates were recognized for their hard work and celebrated with fun photo ops and cupcakes.

Residents at Elizabeth Church Campus want students to know “Have Fun!!”; “Marry a nerd!  (advice I followed and am very happy)”; “Make time for friends & family”; “Study Hard”; and “Congratulations, the world is yours, chase your dreams”.

Even though the experiences of 2020 graduates are very different than previous generations, the emotions associated with transitioning to “young adulthood” are universal. On behalf of all our senior residents, UMH would like to congratulate the graduating class of 2020!