The Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) program of Detroit Metro organizes service activities for their students in the belief that no matter how many discussions are held on topic of service, they will not touch the hearts of the students as much as actual personal interactions with people in need of emotional or physical support such as visits to the elderly in nursing homes. These visits allow students to show compassion and caring, and experience first hand the joy of serving the elderly.  Often there seems to be an unspoken affinity between our youth and the elderly. The children often feel and bask in the non-judgmental love that radiates from the kind and sweet residents in nursing homes.   

Recently, on February 11 2024, eighteen SSE Group 3 (aged 12-15 years) made a Valentine’s Day visit to the Courtyard Manor Nursing Home in Farmington Hills, Michigan.  A few weeks prior, the students planned and prepared for the visit. With great enthusiasm, they used their artistic skills to make beautiful decorative coasters with recycled CDs and lovely small boxes of paper flowers. The handmade gifts made of recycled materials required the purchase of just a few supplies like glue and stickers. The children also eagerly used their talents to prepare a short program with songs, instrumental music, magic tricks and jokes to entertain the residents.  By performing tunes familiar to the elderly like Concerto, Spring Time and Spanish Dance, they engaged and uplifted the seniors' spirit.  Students also sang English songs with positive messages of hope and optimism, such as Love is the Way and Don’t Worry Be Happy. All in all, the children had a most memorable, first-hand experience of selfless service on Valentine’s Day! 

How would a fun afternoon visit be complete without food? The visitors brought snacks like assorted muffins and apple juice for seniors to enjoy a sweet mid-day treat. This also gave the children a chance to care for and serve seniors as they exchanged warm friendly words. The children stepped outside their comfort zone and experienced the joy of giving by bringing smiles to seniors’ faces. It gave them a sense of satisfaction and pride because they were sharing handmade tokens of love and their many talents, unique and personal to each child.   

In the students own words: 

“...I couldn’t help but notice the happiness on the elders’ faces while they listened to the various musical performances, watched the magic tricks and heard our jokes. Their fingers were tapping to the beat of the music and their heads were nodding in time to the music and this put a smile on my face.  This is an experience I will always cherish and look forward to again.” 

“...Service is my favorite SSE activity. It was not just fun to make crafts but the feeling you get when you see all the grandmas and grandpas smiling and giggling when they get our crafts was an amazing experience. It feels so good to know you made someone smile and it really makes your day!” 

“...Although residents weren’t very interactive, you could see they enjoyed our visit and it felt so good to be able to do something nice for them.”