Indian Hill High School student Vandita Rastogi founded the SMILE Club as a way to serve the community. (Provided)
Students with the Students Making Individual Lives Enjoyable, or SMILE Club, built their organization as a community service club within Indian Hill High School. Despite the fact they are distance learning, the students have connected virtually and developed a service project to connect to senior citizens.
“Since we cannot physically volunteer at the locations we usually do, we decided to create virtual cards to send to senior citizens around the area,” said Indian Hill High School student Vandita Rastogi, who founded the SMILE Club. “We have made around 15 different e-cards with words of positive encouragement and light-hearted jokes to lift their spirits.”
Indian Hill High School SMILE Club e-card designs. (Provided)
The SMILE Club has been sending these cards out since mid-March to Carriage Court of Kenwood, Brookdale, the Arden Courts, as well as to VOICES, an organization based in Indiana.
“I believe in what Maya Angelou said, ‘People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel,’” said Rastogi. “During these unprecedented times, it is important to look after our loved ones. While we can always reach out to our extended family, the seniors living in nursing homes don’t always have that opportunity. So, we wanted to lift their spirits, ease their anxieties a little and let them know that we are thinking of them and we miss them dearly.”
The SMILE Club created the inspirational cards online and sent them to the different senior home volunteer directors to be printed and distributed to residents. For the SMILE Club founder, the act of kindness to strangers comes from a place that hits her close to home.
“I started the SMILE club two years ago after coming back from my trip to India,” Rastogi said. “I realized that my grandparents really missed interacting with us, and they would always talk with us late into the night or whenever we were free. I wanted the elderly here to have that same feeling. Since it’s not possible to physically meet them right now, I found e-cards to be a way to connect with them virtually. They can read them whenever they feel like they need a pick-me-up.”