Student Interns Bring and Receive Joy at Noble
Valerie Lenis and Charlotte Clulow, two young scholars, are determined to make a difference in the world around them and Noble Horizons has reaped the benefits. Charlotte, a junior at Housatonic Valley Regional High School (HVRHS), was selected by the Housatonic Youth Service Bureau for a summer internship at Noble Horizons. “Noble Horizons was my first choice because it seemed like something that I would have never experienced before.” Indeed, after her placement in Whitridge, which offers memory care support, Charlotte found herself surrounded by a whole new world. Thanks, however, to her open heart and Whitridge’s warm and friendly setting, Charlotte not only succeeded, she flourished. “It’s really gratifying when I am able to find an activity that makes people happy or makes them smile,” Charlotte says of her time spent interacting with the residents, “No two individuals are the same…some enjoy reading fairy tales, some enjoy coloring, and others, of course, do not, so I really have to think on my feet. It has been a very interesting experience.”
Charlotte’s thoughtful nature and patient observational qualities helped her get to know each of the residents and understand what they most enjoy doing. She has guided residents through a visit with a local llama; as a talented pianist, she has performed concerts; she has sung songs with residents and engaged in countless games. Of particular note is a story she shares about exploring Noble’s picturesque grounds in order to find just the right flower for a resident who enjoys this activity the most, “Whenever we go for golf cart rides or walks together we try to get as many flowers as possible. Every time we pick a new flower she just gets so happy and her face lights up.” It is this reciprocal spirit of connection that Charlotte most enjoyed and that she will continue to create when she returns to visit in the fall.
A steadfast commitment to helping others is second nature to Valerie Lenis, a long time Noble Horizons volunteer and the ninth recipient of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation’s Margaret Derwin Scholarship, awarded annually to a HVRHS student showing “exceptional leadership and commitment to giving back to their community” as well as “exceptional academic achievement with a history of rigorous course selection”. Recipients receive $5000 to participate in an overseas community service program and up to $25,000 annually toward college tuition for a total award of $105,000. Valerie is currently in the Dominican Republic using her $5000 service stipend to volunteer in public health clinics.
Valerie began volunteering at Noble Horizons as a Salisbury Central School student and the friendships she made prompted her to continue visiting once she reached high school. “I made a phone call to Noble Horizons and I asked, who can I talk to about helping out?! Whether it’s interacting with residents, participating in activities like reading poetry, or just helping clean up, I want to do whatever is needed of me.” Since her arrival at Noble Horizons, Valerie has dedicated her undivided care and attention to everyone she interacts with despite her busy school and personal life. In fact, it is her vigorous commitment to contribute to the world around her that makes her such a dynamic volunteer. At HVRHS, she is a member of the Student Government Association, the Envirothon team, the mentoring team, she curates the school’s art gallery and she plays volleyball and tennis. In addition to volunteering at Noble Horizons, Valerie has interned at Women’s Support Services and the EXTRAS, the Salisbury Central School after-school program.
Valerie’s bubbly personality and positivity make her an especially endearing and beloved volunteer. Likewise, Valerie is inspired by the community at Noble; “The energy here is wonderful because there is no judgment and everywhere and everyone is so gentle, both the staff and the residents are always so eager to help out.” It is no wonder then, that Valerie’s humanitarian spirit was a perfect fit for the character of Noble Horizons. Thanks to her recent scholarship award, Valerie will be able to realize her academic aspirations and pursue a career path that will undoubtedly have a positive impact on the world just as she has had at Noble Horizons.