Crystal Duggans, 20, cradled Robert Starnes' head in her arms and launched into "Amazing Grace."
Soon, Starnes, an 84-year-old World War II veteran with Alzheimer's disease, joined her.
Duggans, a student at Richland 1's Heyward Career Center's Victory Works Program, visits Starnes nearly five days a week, volunteering in the community living center at Columbia's Dorn VA Medical Center. She is one of nine students who work at Dorn as part of their studies at Heyward.
Duggans is one of the few people who can get Starnes to respond.
It's always through her singing. He joined her for "Amazing Grace" and, then, "Jesus Loves Me."
"We sing all the time," Duggans said.
The Victory Works Program helps special needs students learn job and life skills. Instructors picked Dorn as one of the places for the students to volunteer so they can learn job skills.
Students Necole Taylor, 19, and Equaylene Jones, 19, also volunteer at Dorn, playing games, serving meals and doing other things to help the veterans.
"I love it," Duggans said.
- Noelle Phillips, staff writer