The Indiana Veterans Home has been running for over 125 years. It has become a staple in the Greater Lafayette community, a place where local Girl Scout Christy Hickman has grown up volunteering and honoring veterans. Hickman is a junior at Jefferson High School, and a Girl Scout Gold Award candidate.
For a Girl Scout to earn a Gold Award, she must develop and carry out a lasting solution to an issue in her neighborhood and beyond. Hickman decided to honor veterans for her project by hosting “Veteran Fun Fridays” at the Indiana Veterans Home (IVH).
“I started hosting events the first Friday of every month starting October 1,” Hickman said. “They each have different themes, and I’ve put up posters around the building and bookmarks I’m giving to those that live here. The meetings happen from 4:00-5:00 pm, then from 5:00-6:00 pm, I go and visit everybody upstairs that can’t come downstairs. There are a lot of people who aren’t mobile.”
Hickman plans different activities for each event including things like cup stacking, get-to-know-you games, and sing-along songs. By bringing in other community groups, these events are filled with a mix of veterans or veteran spouses who live at IVH as well as community volunteers.
“I feel like this is place that nobody comes to visit very often, but I’ve come here for several years, so I thought ‘why not start a program here?’” Hickman said. “I hope to learn more about veterans and generalize (sic) myself with them, as well as inform other people about this place and the veterans.”
Several members of Hickman’s family are veterans, including her grandfather who was in the Coast Guard. She loves hearing about the different experiences of those who live at IVH.
“It has a special place in my heart because I know that I’m helping out my community but also doing something that I love,” Hickman said. “The people here have a lot of fun stories to tell. One thing I like to do is just listen, to have other people tell me their stories, and I can tell them my stories, so we can just have a great conversation together.”
Hickman has been a Girl Scout since she was 5 years old and already has her bronze and silver awards. She said that Girl Scouts helped her learn life skills as well as been a place to grow and make an impact in the community—which is exactly what she plans to do at IVH.
“I want to come back in 5 years and see these events are still happening,” Hickman said. “I want it to be a legacy, I don’t need it to have my name on it, I just want to see Veteran Fun Fridays are still happening.”
Hickman encourages members of the community to attend her events or check out other of their volunteering options.
By Sarah Peterson October 4, 2021