Haley Jenkins

Haley Jenkins

You’ve heard of singing for your supper? A Drake University student will be singing for free room, board and utilities in a Des Moines-area retirement community.

Haley Jenkins is a 21-year-old vocal performance major at Drake and is the first student to try out the new living arrangement with Deerfield Retirement Community in Urbandale. As part of the deal, the college senior will sing two concerts a month for the senior citizens.

“My first concert, I’ll be singing many different songs in many different genres and time periods,” Jenkins says. “I want to educate the people at Deerfield about what I’ll be singing about.” Jenkins spent the fall semester studying abroad in Ireland and didn’t have a place to live upon her return, so the new partnership sounded like an ideal fit.

“It was just perfect for me coming back to America, having a great place to not only live but an amazing opportunity for me to start off the spring semester with,” she says. Jenkins, who grew up on a cattle ranch in central Nebraska, says she won’t be missing out on anything by living in a community that’s inhabited by people who are 40-plus years older. She looks forward to sharing her enthusiasm for music and learning from the other residents’ wealth of life experiences.

Besides, she says, her new apartment is great. “I have this very spacious living room, a galley-way kitchen, a whole office to myself — which is weird, a bathroom, a guest bathroom, a walk-in closet which for me is a big perk since I’m a bit of a fashionista, and a rather large master (bedroom).” Jenkins moved in over the weekend and plans to blog about the experience of being Iowa’s youngest senior living resident.