Teen finds joy in bringing smiles to elderly

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — After her grandmother died, 14-year-old Rheagan Crenshaw decided to start Rheas of Hope to help uplift senior citizens in nursing homes.

"Pretty much from a young age, I loved talking to people who are older than me," Crenshaw said. "I just remembered how when I would visit her (Crenshaw's grandmother), me and my brothers and sister would visit her, and it was like her face would light up every time we would come."

Crenshaw wanted other seniors to get that same feeling, so she visits nursing homes and gives out goodie bags and smiles. She wanted to develop friendships with people in the nursing homes, like Dorothy Smith, who's five times her age.

"When I first saw her, I just enjoyed her," Smith, from East Memphis, said. "It was just her whole persona. It's like sunshine, so I really enjoyed just meeting her."

Smith lives at Feels Like Home senior facility. Other residents first though she was Rheagan's grandmother, but now they also look forward to her visits.This is why Rheagan wants other teenagers to sign up for Rhea's of Hope.

"You wouldn't think a 14-year-old would be company to someone my age, but it's just sometimes when you don't have anything to do, nowhere to go, I'm usually here," Smith said. "I don't go out a lot, so just a conversation sometimes, and some of the things that they do is funny."

It seems Smith and Crenshaw both keep each other laughing.

"I've learned lots of different things and heard lots of crazy stories, and it's like really, really fun," Crenshaw said.

Teens who would like to sign up can contact Rheagan through rheasofhope@gmail.com.

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