Over the years, Rolla Presbyterian Manor has been blessed by its close relationship with the community it serves—epitomized by the steady stream of volunteers and children who visit the campus throughout the year.
Among those who donate their time and talents are the students of Missouri University of Science and Technology and Rolla High School, who regularly help with projects, perform or simply sit and talk with residents.
For the residents, this interaction not only provides entertainment and enrichment opportunities, it serves as a vital link to Rolla and the world beyond.
“When someone comes and visits with the residents, they’re connecting with the community,” said Joy Parker, activities director and volunteer coordinator.
And the fact that many of the volunteers come from the local university, makes that connection even stronger.
“A lot of our residents were past professors, professors’ wives or have a strong connection with the university,” said Joy. “They like to know what’s going on with the university.”
One of the community’s most regular volunteers is a soon-to-be, first-year student at Missouri S&T named Sarah Darknell. Sarah comes to the community once a week to read with residents, look at their photos and learn more about the lives they’ve lived.
“When I think about Sarah, I think about that Bible verse about older women teaching the younger,” said Joy. “I think she gets a lot of advice from them and loves visiting with them.”
For Sarah, it’s much more than that.
“To me, I need the residents just as much as they need me. They provide a kind and knowledgeable insight that only someone that has experienced what they have could provide,” said Sarah.
As an aspiring physician, Sarah also finds inspiration and motivation in those she interacts with.
“They make me want to work hard, so that someday I will have the privilege to help them in the best way possible, so they can go back home to their families or live comfortably in a community that welcomes them and that will also provide great care to them,” said Sarah.
In the meantime, Sarah is using her time at the community to bring joy to the lives of residents as well as herself and those she comes in contact with the rest of the day.
“When (the residents) smile, it radiates to me and I will pass it along outside, when I’m at work, school or with friends,” said Sarah. “This rippling smile will make more than just one person’s day better as it travels throughout the community.”