METHUEN — Lizmary Mota loves to sing, and her ambition is to become a nurse and care for others.
She is combining the two interests to brighten the lives of residents in local nursing homes.
Mota, along with other members of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Church in Lawrence, visit Colonial Heights Nursing Home in Lawrence to play games and sing songs to residents.
“We go there to spend time with the residents who paved the way for us,” Mota, 21, said. “We open our hearts and minds to them. I get a lot of satisfaction when I see them happy and smiling.”
Volunteering at Colonial Heights helped her get a job as an assistant activities director at Academy Manor Nursing Home in Andover.
Mota is taking her work with the elderly one step further with the Hope Portrait Project. She and a fellow church member visit nursing homes to document the life stories of residents in words and photography.
“Once I sat with them, I was blown away by their stories. They gave me a lot of good advice and I gained a lot of wisdom,” she said.
After each interview, each resident is provided with a framed photo and story.
She started the program after applying to the Campus Catalyst Program of Merrimack Valley Sandbox and winning a $500 grant. Mota and members of her church also take the Hope Portrait project to homeless shelters.
Working with the elderly and homeless is a natural for Mota, who is majoring in Business Management: Healthcare Practice at Northern Essex Community College. She was accepted as a NECC presidential scholar after graduating from Lawrence High in 2010.
“Lizmary, normally shy, had to stretch out of her comfort zone to present their project to more than a hundred people at the Catalyst Showcase as well as stand on stage and make a “pitch” for their project to a panel of judges. Lizmary is a young lady with a big heart on the brink of very bright future,” said Dawna Perez, Associate Dean, Access and Community Building at Northern Essex Community College