On Friday, May 5, 2017, The Neighbor to Neighbor Network (NTNN), in conjunction with the Township of Bloomfield and Bloomfield College, hosted the third annual Nursing Senior Extravaganza.
The Neighbor to Neighbor Network is a 501C3 nonprofit. The volunteer organization for Bloomfield Township and the Borough of Glen Ridge provides free socialization and volunteer services for senior citizens in Bloomfield and Glen Ridge NJ.
Three years ago, the Frances M. McLaughlin Division of Nursing at Bloomfield College approached NTNN and requested nursing students collaborate with NTNN to provide volunteer services to the senior citizens that NTNN services.
The Nursing Senior Extravaganza, also known as “the senior prom,” is coordinated by Lori Ann Palmieri, an Associate Professor in Bloomfield College’s nursing department, and Paula Peikes, Supervisor of Human Services for the township.
“The collaboration between Bloomfield College Nursing Students, NTNN, and Bloomfield Human Services has blossomed over the last five years. Bloomfield Senior Citizens and Bloomfield College nursing students have formed a great relationship where they spend time throughout the year participating in socialization activities that the students organize in the local senior building,” said Peikes. “The prom is a celebration of the hard work and the new friendships that have been formed.”
Held this year at the Knights of Columbus in Bloomfield, the prom is a celebration of local senior citizens. The seniors and Bloomfield College nursing students danced, laughed, and shared a meal, which was donated by over one dozen local food establishments.
These vendors included Angelo's Pizzeria; Vinnie's Pizzeria; Cousin's Pizzeria and Villa Italia; Nevada Diner and State Street Grill; The Town Pub; Shannon Rose and the Tilted Kilt Pub; The Pit and Chalet Coffee Shop; Gencarelli's Bakery and Anthony's Cheesecake; Columbus Specialty Hospital; Kings Pizzeria (Somerset); Il Giacolone's (Livingston); and Guiseppe’s (Old Bridge).
Over 150 senior citizens and 50 student volunteers participated this year. Bloomfield College President, Richard A. Levao, Mayor Michael Venezia, Councilman Nick Joanow and Karen Lore, Director of Health and Welfare were in attendance.
The goal of the collaboration is to provide seniors with socialization and to provide the students a glimpse into the lives of people who they usually see in the hospital, many times unable to speak, unable to advocate for themselves, or unable to share their interests. The interaction has been extremely positive for both the seniors and the students of Bloomfield College.
“Whenever there is a time to get students out of the classroom and into the community for external learning, we need to seize that opportunity,” said Palmieri. “In this case, the concept of inter-generational learning is one of those opportunities. Our students can learn so much from the older adults in our community, and vice versa.”