St. Johnland Nursing Center has been caring for the elderly and the sick for over 140 years.
In 1866, with the hope of establishing a community to care for the needy, William Augustus Muhlenberg purchased 500 acres on the north shore of western Suffolk County, now known as Kings Park. Four years later, The Society of St. Johnland was born.
Today, St. Johnland provides services to more than 350 people a day.
St. Johnland has an active volunteer program where members of the community share their time and talents with the residents of St. Johnland.
“When volunteers visit, it fosters the feeling that the residents still belong to the community,” explains Keri Gallagher, director of recreation therapy. “A volunteer is like having a friend come visit.”
There are many opportunities available for individuals - ages 13 or older, or groups to help brighten someone’s day.
Volunteers assist during recreational programs, such as bingo. They help transport residents to such events as parties and monthly trips. Friendly visits are always welcomed, both human and canine – if your four legged friend is certified in pet therapy.
Once a week volunteers come in to make crafts to raffle at various events, such as St. Johnland’s yearly Chinese Auction. The money raised goes into a resident activity fund.
Groups, such as Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, put on skits, variety shows and holiday shows.
Reading partners are appreciated and musicians and singers are always a hit.
“We are open to a lot,” says Gallagher. “If you have a specialty, for example computers, you could run a computer class for the residents.”
“They love the special attention,” Gallagher explains.
Kings Park resident Kathie Plant has volunteered at St. Johnland many times.
“When I was a Girl Scout leader, my troop visited twice a year,” Plant explains. “We had holiday sing-a-longs, magic/comedy shows, talent shows and Valentine's parties. We even put on a dog trick show with a Golden Retriever named Makai.”
“The audience was warm and loving. The experience was as rewarding for the girls and moms as it was for the residents,” says Plant.
For all it has to offers, volunteering at St. Johnland Nursing Center makes our list of 100 Things To Do in Kings Park.
Category: Indoor, volunteerism
Season: Year round
Notes: Contact Keri Gallagher, director of recreation therapy, at 631.663.2465 for more information. Volunteers that have direct contact with residents undergo a volunteer application process.