Basketball. Volleyball. Bowling.
These are just a few of the activities senior citizens from local nursing home facilities took part in last Friday during the annual Suffolk County Golden Games, held inside SJC Long Island’s Danzi Athletic Center Gymnasium.
“It’s a wonderful event,” said St. Joseph’s alumna Linda Schoepfer, director of therapeutic recreation at Westhampton Care Center, who founded the games in 1986 with her colleague, Karen Nash. “It’s a little bit of camaraderie, friendship and having a great time. We see the same teams each year. I love the element of competition, which sometimes people miss as they age, so it’s nice to stimulate that.”
An SJC Therapeutic Recreation Family
Schoepfer, who graduated from SJC Long Island in 1983 with a degree in therapeutic recreation, added that she loves hosting the event at St. Joseph’s since it’s the only college on Long Island with a four-year therapeutic recreation degree.
In fact, the entire board of the Suffolk County Golden Games Association is made up of SJC Long Island therapeutic recreation alumni: Schoepfer, Chris Brigante ’10, Paige (Kowaleski) Corwin ’15, Kristen Leonard ’14 and Don Mulrey ’07.
“My favorite part of the Golden Games is getting everyone together,” said Corwin. “It’s fun seeing all the facilities, because the nursing home world is such a large community. But when everyone gets together, everyone knows each other. You see the same faces year after year.”
Other alumni working at nursing homes in the field of therapeutic recreation who came to the Golden Games include Jacqueline Bodkin ’91, Christine Centrone ’94, Cristina Codispoti ’13, Jennifer Cruz ’00, Jennifer Dasch ’97, Logan Farrell ’16, Jennifer Haug ’94, Samantha Poggi ’12 and Chelsea Saake ’15.
Current SJC Long Island students in Veronica Kaninska‘s class, REC 276: Therapeutic Recreation in Geriatric Settings, volunteered at the games.
Directors of therapeutic recreation at all Suffolk County nursing home facilities are contacted with an invitation to the annual event. This year, participants came from Westhampton Care Center, East Neck Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, St. Johnland Nursing Center, Long Island State Veterans Home, Smithtown Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing Care, Our Lady of Consolation Nursing & Rehabilitation Care Center, San Simeon by the Sound Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, Good Samaritan Nursing Home, Bellhaven Center for Rehabilitation & Nursing Care, and Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center.