By Justin Katz | email@example.com
Photo by Heather Seidel
Margaret Peilemeier has a one-year-old great-granddaughter who she has only seen through pictures. She is a resident at Bayview Rehabilitation and like many others, she often goes days without a visitor.
This is where Flagler College’s Home Team stepped in—to give patients like Peilemeier a smile.
She recently received a red, white and blue stuffed bear that had a tag attached to it that read “This smile brought to you by Flagler College”.
Peilemeier was one of many nursing home residents that were visited by Flagler College students this past weekend. Armed with countless stuffed animals, the students visited various facilities such as Ponce Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Emeritus Assisted Living and Clausen Veteran’s Home.
Under the organization of Ernest Driscoll, Flagler College professor and Katie Freyder, president of Flagler College’s Home Team, students from various clubs, ages, and backgrounds visited more than 400 nursing home residents like Peilemeier.
“I had organized the event with Professor Driscoll’s help and it felt so different knowing I had been apart of the planning process of our event,” said Freyder. “When I saw all the volunteers who showed up and the smiles on the residents faces as we walked around and talk with them, it was the best feeling I’ve had in a while.”
Peilemeier has been at Bayview for about three months, after a fall forced her to undergo surgery.
“I broke my pelvis in a couple of places,” Peilemeier explained. “I can’t walk or stand because the surgery left one my legs slightly shorter than the other.”
Peilemeier, who has limited mobility, says that reading is one of her favorite hobbies.
“I like inspirational books and I also like real books, not ones that were made by someone’s imagination,” Peilemeier said.
Peilemeier still has a positive outlook towards the future.
“I haven’t given up hope yet, I’m still hoping I’ll be able to walk again,” said Peilemeier
The joy from reading cannot replace the happiness that family brought to Peilemeier.
Peilemeier holds on to the memories. Before moving to Florida, she lived in Indiana and worked as a secretary. She has three children of her own, but only one of them lives in St. Augustine today.
“I believe what comes around, goes around, which is why I want to give this to my great-granddaughter,” Peilemeier said, about the teddy bear.
Although seeing family is a rare opportunity for residents at these facilities, the staff members who work at Bayview have become closely connected with the residents they care for.
Alfredo Collazo, the activity assistant at Bayview, works with many of the same individuals every day.
“This isn’t a job you do for the money, you do it because you care about people,” said Collazo.
Collazo explained that it’s the people he takes care of are who he thinks about when he isn’t feeling well or doesn’t want to come into work.
“I don’t see these people as residents,” Collazo said . “I see them as family.”