SUMMIT – Rowan Carpenter remembers the moment he decided to do something nice to help older adults during COVID-19. The 16-year-old Summit resident was on a Zoom call with parents, fellow students and guidance counselors at his school, Union County Vocational – Technical, discussing the challenges of remote learning. Rowan agreed with his peers as they spoke openly about feeling isolated and disconnected. “We call it virtually isolated,” he said.

This got him thinking about older adults and how they’re feeling during the pandemic. Especially those living alone. He knew he wanted to help. Years ago, his great grandfather delivered Meals on Wheels and more recently, his father, Brian did as well. This gave Rowan the idea of connecting with SAGE to do something for the nonprofit’s Meals-on-Wheels clients.

He knew to be successful he needed help so he came up with the idea of collecting items from local residents to create gift bags that he would help hand deliver. He made flyers and his father created a Facebook page, Make a Senior Smile where he was able to share the flyer with different groups who then shared it with their friends. The community response was amazing. The Carpenters put a donation box outside their front door and immediately it filled up again and again. People donated blankets, kitchen towels, soaps, socks, mugs and much more. “I wanted the clients, who aren’t able to get out, to know they are not alone,” Rowan said. “I wanted them to know people care.”

Amy Stuart, SAGE’s volunteer coordinator, said she was awed by Rowan’s commitment to making this happen and orchestrating it so beautifully. “Rowan’s act of kindness is just overwhelming and the impact he made on these people is really remarkable.”

Rowan estimates that with the help of his mother, Michelle Miller they were able to put together 100 plus bags. He recently went out with a Meals-on-Wheels volunteer and delivered bags to a number of very surprised clients. “Everyone was so appreciative, you could tell it meant so much to them,” he said. Asked how he felt doing something so kind and thoughtful, he answered, “Thank you (SAGE) for giving me the opportunity.”

For additional ways to support SAGE, visit their website www.sageeldercare.org.