Smiles All Around

Senior Smiles, a club founded by seniors Gabby De La Cruz and Anush Sanchezyan, aims to spark joy amongst local retirement homes and senior living facilities. 

In the 2021-2022 school year, Senior Smiles was introduced as one of Potomac Falls’ brand new clubs, founded by now-seniors Gabby De La Cruz and Anush Sanchezyan. “The main reason we started it up is because so many people weren’t able to see their families due to COVID,” said De La Cruz, president of the club. 

Sanchezyan, vice president, emphasized that “the elderly people in these homes grew very lonely because of the limitations upon visitors,” so to lift them up, Senior Smiles was founded, aiming to help members of the community out. “We wanted to be supportive, and when we do visit, our mission is fulfilled by the joy and appreciation from everyone,” said Sanchezyan.

The club’s pursuits impact real people, spurring up socialization between high school students and seniors who’ve been missing some youthful spirit lingering around. In their visitations, they plan activities to engage residents, like crafts or bingo. “Simply seeing the smiles and joy on the residents’ faces whenever we come in is so rewarding, especially when it comes to the holiday season,” said De La Cruz.

“Every month, we plan different events; depending on the time of the year, they might be seasonal-inspired activities,” said De La Cruz. They started off their 2022-2023 events with a visit to Sunrise Senior Living and Pacifica Senior Living, in which they planned pumpkin painting一a big hit amongst residents. “We set out the crafts and assisted them with painting. If they’re unable to, we ask for their advice, like what colors or details or designs they want us to paint for them.”

“Honestly, it barely even matters what type of activity we’re doing. They just appreciate our presence so much, and that’s all we could ask for,” said Sanchezyan. The ambitions of the club have touched so many residents at the homes they’ve visited, even when simply sitting around and listening to the years of stories and experiences stockpiled amongst the elderly.

“It’s so nice to hear what they have to say. One lady was talking to us about her life and all the things she’s experienced. Her husband was in the military, stationed during the Korean war, and she was a war nurse; they went through everything together. Then, they came to the elderly home together, but he sadly passed away. And that’s why we’re here. Hearing her story is one of my favorite memories so far,” said Sanchezyan. 

The companionship provided by students involved with Senior Smiles is exceptional. The club’s achievements are not only admirable to Potomac Falls’ student body, but are precious new memories for many who’ve come into contact with them. As a pillar of community service, they continue to accomplish feats that uplift the souls of many. 

“Everything we’ve done so far has been so fulfilling for the people at the homes and for all of the club members, as well. It feels so good to help out and do something important,” said De La Cruz. Since the beginning of the current school year, Senior Smiles has practically doubled the number of members since last year. 

“We hope to continue expanding the club, getting more people at Potomac Falls involved, and hopefully, other schools too,” said De La Cruz. The officers of Senior Smiles have been in contact with surrounding high schools, like Briar Woods and Dominion, in plans to start up new chapters of the club all around the community. 

“I really want to make the members feel like they’re truly a part of something important; it’s not just a means of volunteer hours. We’re doing something that helps others, and the benefits to that are endless,” said De La Cruz.