For one Saturday, the residents of Watercrest Care Center in North Miami Beach were treated to their very own piece of Las Vegas.
In coordination with the University of Miami’s National Gandhi Day of Service, the Phi Delta Theta fraternity organized and ran a casino for the retirement home. While they were only gambling tickets for various small prizes instead of vast sums of money, the excitement from the residents was palpable to all those involved.
Sophomore and member of Phi Delta Theta Steve Frederico was one of the 23 brothers that spent all day organizing roulette, blackjack, horseracing and a lottery as a part of the day’s activities. Although he had participated in last year’s Gandhi Day, this was the first time he had the experience of working with the elderly.
“At first, we didn’t mingle that well with the residents,” said Frederico. “But eventually they became comfortable with us and it became a lot of fun.”
Music proved to be a great ice breaker.
“Somebody started playing Michael Jackson songs, and all of a sudden we were dancing with the residents who were able to. One of them even taught us how to do the electric slide.”
Frederico, along with over 1500 other student volunteers spread across all of Greater Miami, sacrificed one day of sleeping in to help give back to their community. Ranging from retirement home visits to beach cleanups and urban beautification, volunteers took pride in knowing that their work is making an impact.
“Last year I spent Gandhi Day working at a wildlife reservation spreading mulch around,” said Frederico. “It was definitely more labor intensive than the retirement home, but I felt they were both equally rewarding in different ways.”
Even though doing the electric slide with somebody’s grandparents was not what he had in mind, Steve Frederico enjoyed his time at Watercrest so much that he plans on going back again, on his own time.
“It was an awesome feeling to make such an impact on other people by simply showing up and having fun with them for a couple hours. Had I known that earlier, I would make sure everybody I knew participated as well.”