WILMINGTON – When it comes to senior citizens and students interacting, it’s usually the older people sharing their expertise with the youngsters. But in Emma Field’s case, the roles are reversed.
The Ursuline Academy senior is the one leading her elders, —residents at Kentmere Nursing Care Center — where Field is the volunteer director of the handbell choir.
When she started, she was not familiar with the bells, but she could read music, which was good enough.
About eight senior citizens are in the bell choir, and they are busy rehearsing for a Christmas concert at Kentmere, near Field’s home in Wilmington. She began volunteering there before her junior year at Ursuline. She was familiar with the facility from her time as a student at St. Ann’s School.
“At St. Ann’s in grade school we would always go over there for Masses, and that’s how I knew of Kentmere. We would visit the residents and make cards for them. We did that from fourth through eighth grade. I just decided to start volunteering there,” Field said recently at Ursuline.
At Kentmere, she has found the residents eager to learn and to hear her play the flute, which she has done since kindergarten. Music is an important part of her life. At Ursuline, she’s part of the liturgical band, and she’s a member of the all-state band. She also plays in the pit orchestra at Salesianum School. Her non-musical activities include the swimming and cross country teams, and she is vice president of the student council. She also takes several Advanced Placement classes.
Field takes lessons at the Music School of Delaware and is in a jazz band there. Last year, she was a counselor to younger students at the school. She also plays at St. Ann’s Church on occasion.
Music is not the only reason she volunteers at Kentmere. She enjoys the interaction with the residents.
“When I started out, I didn’t see that I would be there directing the bell choir,” she said. “I just kind of assumed it would be a short-term thing. But I’m glad it turned into a long-term thing because I’ve had more of an impact on their lives. I just love visiting them and talking to them. I like how music influences their life.”
One of the choir members, Marjorie Carter, is happy to have Field around. “The bell choir is the greatest, and we can’t do it without her. She has just brought so much to us.”
Another member, Peggy Brewington, said, “We all think the world of Emma. She is just wonderful.”
Field said she has seen some residents moved to tears when she plays the flute for them. That helps her keep from taking her talent for granted, and it helped her realize that music can have a big impact on people’s lives.
Ursuline requires its high school students to perform 80 hours of service, a number Field passed long ago. The philosophy of the school, however, influenced her decision to stay at Kentmere.
“I just enjoy volunteering. Serviam definitely had an impact because you’re required to do 80 (hours) and that made me see how much I enjoy helping people,” said Field, one of eight children. Serviam, the school’s motto, is Latin for “I will serve.”
For her school service, she was a counselor at the Delaware Nature Society and Guardian Angels Day Care, and she made bracelets as a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness.
She hopes to continue on a path of service as a career. Field is unsure where she will attend college, but she’s considering nursing as a career.