Citadel cadets bringing joy to Lowcountry seniors

As seen on WCSC – Live 5 News by Autumn Klein

Cadets and seniors are forming unique bonds and earning service hours.

Cadets from The Citadel visit the senior residents of Kempton Senior Living Community and receive volunteer hours. Still, these visits mean a lot more than just service hours to both of the parties involved.

The cadets regularly walk over to Kempton, knock on the residents’ doors, play games, go on walks or sometimes even just talk.

Ben Moise is an 81-year-old resident at Kempton. He has been getting visits from the cadets for about a month now.

“It meant that I had an afternoon of visitation when I would have been snoring,” Moise said when asked what these visits meant to him.

Moise himself attended The Citadel in 1961 and he loves to reminisce on his experience there with the cadets.

The workers at Kempton said that they see such a difference in the residents after the cadets’ visit. Kempton Executive Director Lindsay French said that the residents benefit from seeing younger people.

“It helps them feel like they’re important and that someone is there to specially visit them. So that it just makes all the difference,” French said.

She said that the pandemic had a serious impact on their residents and that they have been trying to get them socially engaged as much as possible ever since.

Kempton Sales Director Lisa McLeod agreed.

“Really the residents just want to talk. They want to share their life experiences. They want to hear why the students have chosen The Citadel and it just makes them smile,” McLeod said.

Both French and McLeod said that many of the residents do not have family in the area to visit them, so having these visitors really benefits them.

The seniors are not the only ones benefitting from the visits, though.

Kanyia Purefoy is a sophomore cadet at The Citadel, and she began volunteering at Kempton this semester. She said her favorite part is just talking to the residents.

“It’s very humbling and rewarding,” she said. “They just love to talk and want people to visit them. They want to feel like they matter which they do, and it’s just rewarding on both ends.”

Zoey Ellison is also a sophomore cadet who enjoys volunteering at Kempton.

“It’s a heartwarming experience. I mean, just talking to them and letting them be able to express how they feel,” she said.

Ellison is a nursing major and Purefoy is a biology major. They said that they began to volunteer at Kempton with the idea that it would provide experience for their future careers; however, they have been able to connect with the residents much more than they imagined. There are plenty of options for community service hours, but they both said they plan to continue to volunteer at Kempton.

“It’s very nice just to give back to the community and do things that normal teenagers wouldn’t do,” Ellison said.

Officials from The Citadel said that this was the whole goal of this partnership. They wanted to expand their outreach, but they also wanted something that would plant a seed in these cadets and provide them with more than just volunteer hours. They wanted something that the students could enjoy and continue to grow with. They are continuing to bring students to Kempton.

Moise said that his favorite part about the visits is that they are a surprise and he hopes they never end.

“I hope they keep up with the visits. I think it means a lot to the residents here and I think it will eventually mean a lot to the cadets,” he said.