Miami Palmetto High senior Abigail Hason spent much of this summer volunteering at the Community Living Center, the nursing home that is a part of the Veterans’ Hospital.
“We spent most of the time with recreation,” she says.
She and her sister helped patients with a gardening project by helping them get the seeds and prepare the soil. They also helped the patients in the cooking group.
“We did a lot of help with the set-up,” she says.
They needed the help the veterans because some of them had suffered strokes so they couldn’t use one of their hands well.
“Most of them were in wheelchairs,” she says. “Most of them were older – 70 onward. We got to speak with them a lot so we’re friends with them. Some were 70-71, and one was 90.”
Hason says she loved to hear their stories and learn about where they were from.
“It was cool that they were alive during things we learned in our history class,” she says.
She and her sister went to the CLC five days a week for seven hours a day. Now that school is back in session, they go on Saturdays
While some teens might find it difficult to talk to seniors, especially seniors that have cognitive problems, Hason found it a good experience.
But she’s had practice because she’s taken care of her grandmother –who suffers from dementia -in the past.
“That helped me with the veterans, with the patience,” she says.
At Palmetto, Hason runs cross country and plays lacrosse. She’s involved in the National Honor Society and the English Honor Society as well as the creative writing club.
As a creative writer, she plans on entering the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.
“I entered it last year and got second place. I’d like to get a silver,” she says.
She’s most likely to enter poetry in the writing contest. She has a number of poems she wrote at the end of the last school year and over the summer that she can use.
Her creative side extends to music. Hason plays viola in the Palmetto orchestra and she’s also been a part of the Miami Youth Symphony.
The viola has been a major part of her life since seventh grade, but she’s been involved in music longer than that, also playing piano and violin.
She’s a member of the Pinecrest Youth Advisory Council (YAC) and has been since seventh grade. The council works closely with Mayor Cindy Lerner on community service projects or events, including Relay for Life and the Junior Orange Bowl Parade.
“Several years ago, during one of our YAC meetings, one student mentioned the possibility of having a transportation system within Pinecrest,” Hason says. “The basic premise incorporated a small bus that could take Pinecrest residents to any location within the Village parameters, such as the Library, Pinecrest Gardens, and the many Pinecrest parks.”
The idea was talked about for a while, until one day, council members realized a bus system could be important and they worked to institute the Pinecrest People Mover.
“The fact that I witnessed the abstract idea of the People Mover become a reality really opened my eyes to how anyone can bring about a change in the community, and it does not have to be only those in the higher caliber,” she says.
For college, she plans on staying in state. Her goal is to major in pre-med or biology, with the intention of becoming an orthodontist.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld