When Isabella discovered that 60 percent of retirement home residents do not have visitors, she took action. A high school senior, she started a non-profit to connect high schoolers with retirement home residents—especially those with no regular visitors. Her efforts to create genuine, authentic relationships is helping to bring back the vitality of human connection to our seniors. 

Isabella’s non-profit, Herralink, has grown in five months to pair 350 students from 11 schools across Northern Virginia to meet regularly one-on-one with more than 700 residents at four retirement homes. She has also inspired family members, church members, Girl/Boy Scouts, and other community members to participate in her programs to decrease isolationism for older residents. Isabella has organized several short one-hour gatherings (craft-making, game sessions, karaoke) and one big community event each month, coordinating with service dogs to ensure bed-bound residents are included. The Halloween event featured a bouncy house, balloon animals, face painting, and a magician. For Thanksgiving she brought farm animals to the retirement homes. Her masquerade ball at the Jim Scott Community Center  attracted more than 200 people! 

Isabelle has also reached out to connect her students with Reston Strong, an event that creates a free market that primarily serves older adults on limited incomes. As Isabella continues her education at Northern Virginia Community College, she remains focused on decreasing isolationism and increasing connectivity for older residents within her local community.

“Isabella increases our seniors’ quality of life by combating isolation and providing a platform for community members to share experiences and quality time with our seniors in retirement homes. Her commitment to addressing isolationism for our senior population is as incredible as the growth and number of residents Herralink serves.”

Supervisor Pat Herrity, Springfield District