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Junior Volunteers "Set Up Shop" in Waveny's General Store

Posted on August 30, 2011

Volunteers Caroline Callahan and Emma Chivily set up items for “sale” in the General Store at The Village at Waveny Care Center.

New Canaan – Friends Caroline Callahan and Emma Chivily have “set up shop” in the General Store on “Main Street” at The Village at Waveny Care Center, Waveny’s assisted living residence dedicated to serving the needs of people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of memory loss.

For the past three years, Callahan and Chivily, both age 11, have helped to run a unique intergenerational program at The Village designed to promote independence, fulfillment and, above all, fun. Started in 2008, the General Store program gives Village residents and Adult Day Program participants the opportunity to shop for small items and toiletries for themselves and their loved ones, using homemade Waveny currency with the help of friendly cashiers, Callahan and Chivily.

“No real money is exchanged,” said Chivily. “But the experience of shopping is the same. One of my favorite parts of running the General Store is seeing the expressions on the residents’ faces when they buy things. It makes them really happy, and that makes us really happy.”

Promoting a sense of autonomy, normalcy and independence through creative programming and activities is a main goal of the therapeutic care provided at The Village.  

“Getting to know the residents and their different personalities is rewarding all by itself,” said Callahan. “I can tell that they really enjoy the interaction and conversation with us and other volunteers our age. I think it reminds them of their youth and their grandkids.” Callahan has found that some residents shop exclusively for their families, “They pick out things they think their children and grandchildren would like, including lotions, nail polish, stuffed animals and greeting cards.”

Keeping up with the residents’ changing preferences in available items is one of the girls’ greatest challenges. “We buy all of the items ourselves,” said Charlene Callahan, mother of Caroline. “The girls keep a running list of requested items, so there’s always a variety of new things for sale each time they open the store.”

Waveny welcomes in-kind donations specifically for the General Store program. Appropriate items include new travel-sized toiletries, small gifts, stationery and novelties.

Both girls say that they would love for more kids and teens to become involved in the program. “It’s a lot of fun, and a great way to give back and make a difference,” said Chivily. “If more people and families got involved, we could probably open the General Store more often,” added Callahan.

For more information on volunteer opportunities at Waveny, including the General Store program at The Village, please contact Sandie Malloy, Director of Volunteers, at 203.594.5334 or [email protected]

Waveny Care Network provides a comprehensive continuum of healthcare to serve the growing needs of older adults from all areas. Waveny is a not-for-profit organization that offers independent living at New Canaan Inn, assisted living for people with Alzheimer’s and memory loss at The Village, and skilled nursing at Waveny Care Center. It also includes the Brown Geriatric Evaluation Clinic, a Geriatric Care Management team that provides 24-hour coverage, an Adult Day Program available six days a week with transportation to and from New Canaan, Stamford, Norwalk, Darien and Wilton, inpatient and outpatient Rehabilitation Services, and respite and hospice care programs at The Village and Care Center. For more information call (203) 594-5200 or visit www.waveny.org.