Miami scholars spend grants on greater good
Published: Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 01:10
CharitableWords.com, a blog that serves as a resource to nonprofit organizations, has named Miami University gerontology majors seniors Josie Ridgeway, Jessica Littrell and junior Eleni Balli this year’s first Charitable Words Scholars.
Tom Callinan, a nonprofit advocate with 35 years of experience as a writer, editor and journalism instructor, and his wife Maureen Callinan, an elder law attorney, are the publishers of Charitable Words.
“I was a writer and editor all of my life, and, as a journalist, you really need to be objective and unattached to the issues,” Callinan said. “When I retired I wanted to make up for lost time and start being very subjective, by being very active in the things I care about.”
Charitable Words recognizes students who are interested in the humanitarian sector of nonprofits, specifically in the areas of Aging with Dignity, Lifelong Learning and Enrichment and Veteran of All Eras and Ages, Callinan said. He said he and his wife were excited when they learned of Miami University’s volunteer program, Opening Minds through Art (OMA).
“Miami has one of the best Gerontology programs in the country,” Callinan said. “When we found out about the foundation [OMA] we just loved it. OMA is so great because they’re so excited and passionate about what they do.”
OMA is a program that allows student volunteers and staff to build relationships with people of dementia, through social engagement, and creative self-expression opportunities, Jessica Littrell said, senior at Miami and one of the first named Charitable Scholars. Littrell said she started her volunteer work with OMA her senior year at Miami.
“My first semester senior year I became an OMA student volunteer at the Knolls of Oxford,” Littrell said. “I had a unique perspective because I volunteered with about seven different elders when you’re usually partnered up with only one. I applied for a leadership position my second semester, and it’s in that time I realized I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.”
Josie Ridgeway, senior at Miami and also one of the first named Charitable Scholars, shared her experience.
“My sophomore year, the founder of OMA Dr. Elizabeth “Like” Lokon, came into my gerontology class,” Ridgeway said. “I fell in love with the idea of the program and started out as a senior volunteer, working with adults, one-on-one.”
Ridgeway is now a junior OMA leader and also is a member of the Gerontology Club, which allows her to work with older adults at three different locations: the Knolls of Oxford, the Senior Center and Woodland Manor.
Littrell talked about her experience with Charitable Words.
“Dr. “Like” Lokon emailed us over the summer explaining that there was an awesome opportunity for us to apply for this program that was creating awareness and sharing experiences with non-profits,” Littrell said. “I applied and wrote an essay explaining OMA and what it meant to me and what I wanted to do with my future.”
Ridgeway continued to explain how the Callinan family offered three scholarship to gerontology students.
“Five students applied and three were selected,” Ridgeway said. “It’s pretty exciting; we’re the first students to receive this scholarship at Miami and on behalf of the Gerontology center.”
Ridgeway donated half of her one thousand dollar scholar ship to Alzheimer research.
“I put half of my scholarship towards the Walk to End Alzheimer’s,” Ridgeway said. “I donated $300 to the Alzheimer’s Association and used $200 for fundraising efforts. We ended up coming in second place and raising over $5540 in three weeks. It was really great; the Callinan family walked on the Miami University Gerontology and OMA Team.”
Ridgeway said she hopes to continue her graduate education at Miami and has applied to attend Miami’s Master of Gerontological Studies Program. She said the program is very competitive, as there are few comparable ones in the U.S.
“Dr. “Like” Lokon definitely deserves credit, she was my inspiration and she’s definitely my role mode,” Ridgeway said. “If I could aspire to be like one person it would be her.”
Littrell returned to Miami this year as a second-year senior and used her scholarship toward her education in getting an art degree. She said she hopes to eventually become a registered art therapist.