San Marcos Teen Raises Money To Help Connect Seniors With Loved Ones During Pandemic

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A San Marcos High School student is raising money to connect seniors, who live in a skilled nursing facility, with their loved ones who they haven’t been able to see since the start of the pandemic.

Derek Triska, 17, said he was inspired to launch the campaign after missing out on visits with his own grandmother, Aclia Ware. Ware lives at Hillcrest Heights Healthcare Center, where she isn’t allowed visitors because of the pandemic.

“My entire life I’ve always visited her and made an effort to spend time with her, because she’s so important to me,” said Triska. “She’s super fun, very energetic and she can brighten a room as soon as she comes in.”

Triska said when he goes to the facility, he can only see his grandmother through a glass wall, but its difficult to communicate.  

“It was definitely different to not be able to go in there and give her a hug. It’s just really hard,” said Triska.

Triska said he and his brother put their money together to buy his grandma an iPad, so that they could video chat with her.

“She lights up every time we’re able to Facetime,” said Triska. But he said he started to worry about the other residents who didn’t have the same opportunity to see their loved ones.

“Just knowing that their completely isolated and they’re not able to spend time with their loved ones must be tougher on them than really anyone else,” Triska explained. So he launched a GoFundMe to raise money to donate iPads to other residents who live at his grandmother’s facility.

“The residents there haven’t been able to do their normal activities either, so with the iPads they can maybe play games, watch movies and shows, in addition to the video calls. Since the program began, we’ve just got more and more people to join and I do believe the community will step in and make a difference in these people’s lives,” said Triska.

So far, Triska said he has raised enough money for 4 iPads, but he’s hoping for many more. To donate to Triska's mission, click here.

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