Scripps students craft special events for seniors

Longtime Claremont resident Neda Barnes writes a message on her snow globe ornament during a recent Holiday Crafting Workshop at the Joslyn Senior Center in Claremont. The one day class is one of several hosted by students from the Claremont Colleges who perform service projects as part of their clinical geropsychology coursework.

by Steven Felschundneff |

On a recent warm fall afternoon about a dozen women are crowded around circular tables at the Joslyn Senior Center making crafts for the upcoming holiday season.

The women chat sociably but mostly they remain focused on their creations — winter-themed ornaments, a beaded bracelet or a clever gift made from leftover Scrabble letters.
“Start getting ready for the holidays with this one-day gift-making workshop! Create a unique piece of jewelry, a festive ornament, or both! To top it all off, you will be able to gift-wrap your finished product and create a holiday card,” according to the Claremont Senior Program’s November newsletter called “The Clicks.”

The crafting workshop was the creation of three students from a class in clinical geropsychology at Scripps college. The students, all young women, create these types of events at the Joslyn Center as outreach related to their coursework.

Clinical geropsychology is a discipline within psychology focused on understanding and helping older persons and their families to maintain well-being, overcome problems and achieve maximum potential during later life, according to Wikipedia.

Longtime Claremont resident Neda Barnes busily works creating a snow globe ornament with tiny pine cones, red berries and a sprig of greenery. She carefully writes a personal message on the outside using a thin paint brush, while friend Willie Riley also finishes a similar ornament.

“The writing is impressive,” one of the students remarks.
The students circulate throughout the room in an effort to be helpful while not interfering with the creative process.

Catherine Brown of Upland is busy creating Scrabble ornaments with the names of her granddaughter, great-niece and great-nephew. She plans to send them along as gifts for the upcoming holidays.

Across the table, Margot Mafra Spencer is helping La Verne resident Sheena Caughey with a similar ornament.

Caughey said she appreciates the programs at the Joslyn because other senior centers in the area are not yet offering in-person classes and activities.

The people who run the Claremont Senior Program have an ongoing relationship with The Colleges but the close collaboration between Scripps College psychology professor Stacey Wood, her students and the Joslyn Center is new this semester.

Jen Hele, supervisor of the senior program, said the special classes and workshops the Scripps students have designed have been much appreciated, particularly because they are not yet offering all of the regular pre-pandemic services at Joslyn.

“This was an exciting opportunity for all of us,” Hele said. It has also served as a way to offer some new and fun activities for Claremont seniors.

Each class is the unique creation of the three or four students who serve as its hosts, and is the result of brainstorming sessions where everyone proposes ideas for new classes. In the past they have held Zoomba workouts and an introduction to playing Mahjong.

“They all choose an activity that speaks to them and that they want to share with the community,” Hele said. She said the collaboration this semester with the Scripps students has been amazing and has given them a chance to get real world experience working with senior population.

“I really hope the relationship will continue,” Hele said.

Last week they hosted a game of Jeopardy at Joslyn which covered topics similar to the popular television trivia-based game show including history, sports and entertainment. Guests were invited to put together their own teams of three or to sign up individually and join a team with other singletons. Prizes were awarded to the top scoring teams.

Plans for a senior fun day on December 1 were still in the works as of last Friday, but some ideas include games such as corn hole and maybe a puzzle table. For reservations or for more information on future classes and workshops, please call (909) 399-5488.


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