UIndy RSO ‘GlamourGals’ helps battle senior isolation in nursing homes

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Photo by Logan Wong GlamourGals members sophomore liberal arts major Mya Zunun and sophomore psychology and pre-OT major Vanessa Stiers created Thanksgiving cards to send to nursing homes on Nov. 18. The club has many other projects directed that are towards seniors.

Senior isolation, which is the barriers that isolate senior citizens from their peers and family, has grown within nursing homes all around America due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the CDC. The health risk includes increased risk of dementia, depression, anxiety and other factors, such as a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke. GlamourGals, a University of Indianapolis Registered Student Organization, was founded in the fall of 2020 by senior human biology pre-physical therapy major and GlamourGals President Madison Brixey and senior exercise science major and GlamourGals Treasurer Deirdre McGill, among others, with the goal of helping reduce senior isolation in the Indianapolis community.

According to Brixey, the RSO is a chapter of a national service organization that features high schools and colleges all around the country. Brixey said she was the main driving force behind getting GlamourGals started at UIndy as she had started a GlamourGals organization in high school after finding out about the organization at the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership Conference. 

“They had a GlamourGals chapter come in, that you could volunteer with, and one of my friends at the time was super interested in volunteering with them just because you got to give the elderly makeovers,” Brixey said. “That was all filled up, it was super popular, and my friend at the time looked into it and was like, ‘I want to start one of these.’ Our junior year, she looked at starting one and just never got it off the ground. And then my senior year, I lost the class president election to my ex-boyfriend. I ended up turning that around and getting into service instead, so I had time to then start the GlamourGals chapter in my high school.”

Currently, GlamourGals is working with Five Star Residences of Banta Pointe, south of UIndy’s campus, but due to COVID-19 they have not gotten the chance to actually enter the retirement community and do makeovers, according to McGill. She said that instead, they have been working on items such as writing cards, care packages and other items. Brixey said that the challenges of operating and accomplishing their goals during COVID-19 has helped with creativity and their ability to overcome obstacles. 

What sets GlamourGals apart from other service organizations on campus is the type of service they do, Brixey said. She said that the majority of the time people assume that service is working in a homeless shelter or going on a mission trip but GlamourGals is a unique spin on service because they are helping a normally overlooked cause. 

Photo by Logan Wong On Nov. 18, the GlamourGals Registered Student Organization created Thanksgiving cards to send to senior citizens in nursing homes. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic they were unable to enter the nursing homes as they normally do so they made cards instead.

According to McGill, the organization currently consists of six board members with there being roughly 25 members outside of the board. McGill said these projects mean a lot to those they are helping. 

“Honestly, it might really mean everything to them to know that they really aren’t alone,” McGill said. “Because sometimes when you don’t see others, it can be hard to think positively and think, ‘Oh, there’s still people that care about me and still people that are thinking about me.’ Having these little care packages sent to them or little blankets or things like that, that we’ve done in the past.’”

Brixey said that students don’t have to have any special skills to work with GlamourGals. She said that in the future she hopes that GlamourGals reaches the levels of Delight Ministries and other RSO’s that people look forward to joining when they come to UIndy. 

Those that are interested in joining the GlamourGals organization can reach out to them via their Instagram which is @UIndyGG or email them at glamourgals@uindy.edu

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