Seniors and students gathered this month at the Magnolia Grand Senior Living Center in Riverside for an afternoon of collage-making and trading stories.
The event was organized by Volunteer Action for Aging, a nonprofit group focused on improving the lives of senior citizens across Southern California. UC Riverside’s chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed service fraternity, sent students to the May 1 event to help the seniors create art.
The class consisted of seven ladies and two tables full of magazines, utensils and cardboard paper. Veora Erwin, a retired artist whose work has been showcased at the Riverside Art Museum, was in attendance to present her work to the other seniors, some of whom had never made a collage before. Erwin displayed three pieces – all abstract pieces predominantly in tan and green. Erwin said she makes collages because she strives to be original and believes that “a true artist never copies.”
Another resident artist was Laura White, who created a collage titled “Bad Trip,” featuring a car and a picture of two people standing in front of an explosion. Plastered all over the walls of the workroom were her drawings of owls. She became fascinated with them after taking a class called Brain Strains, also operated at the center, where she learned about the animal.
“They like to keep you stimulated here,” she said.
Also present were students from Alpha Phi Omega. Christine Billones, a second-year psychology major, said the fraternity teamed up with Volunteer Action for Aging to help their community.
“I’ve never (had)] a chance to do this, and when I joined Alpha Phi Omega I had the opportunity to help and meet new people,” she said.
The students helped residents cut out paper and create designs while sharing stories.
Jan Derny, a retired schoolteacher, had said it was her first time making a collage, but had decided that it “wasn’t (her) forte.”
“I need a focal point to make something,” Derny said. “I like quilting better.” Derny, however, was very appreciative of the students’ charity work. “It’s nice of them to volunteer their time and it’s nice to meet young people.”
Giselle Cruz, the volunteer coordinator for Volunteer Action for Aging, was excited by the turnout.
“We work to keep seniors out of the nursing home and very happy and independent.” Cruz, said adding that the organization recruits mostly through volunteermatch.org and hopes to have more volunteers for future events.
Events like this truly demonstrates what makes Riverside such a unified city. We are a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.
For more information about volunteering, contact Cruz at 562-637-7110 or visit independenceathome.org.