Lifting Hearts with the Arts connects seniors with student volunteers for virtual company

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Tuesday, June 30, 2020
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"Our volunteers sing to residents, play music to them or just have a conversation every week."

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A group of high school students are bringing generations together by reaching out to spread joy to older people isolated by the pandemic.

Nice people keeping each other company, that's the idea behind "Lifting Hearts With the Arts." High school students connect with lonely seniors, virtually.

"Our volunteers sing to residents, play music to them or just have a conversation every week," said Maya Joshi, Founder.

Joshi is a rising sophomore at Walter Payton College Prep. She started the organization after seeing how the pandemic affected her grandparents.

"Their anniversary was coming up and my family and I couldn't go visit them and so I just called them every day and we started doing more video calls with me and my sister," she said. "I thought, why not spread that same joy to other seniors and others in more isolated settings?"

The high school students virtually connect every week with residents of assisted care facilities, sharing their love of the arts with residents like Nancy.

"I like it but I'm not very good at it. But I'm going to keep trying," said Nancy, who was one of the first residents to try to program.

That's the idea: trying, sharing something new and learning from each other.

"I've definitely learned a lot about 70's, 60's and 50's music and now I'm a huge fan. I always used to listen to recent music, but now I like 70's hits," Joshi said.

They say this is just the beginning.

"I've really enjoyed making these amazing friendships with these residents and even after COVID, even after things return slightly back to normal, we are still excited to meet all the residents in person and still continue our friendship with them," she said.

At 15 years old, Joshi hopes to expand her non-profit with more volunteers so they can reach even more senior citizens.