A ceremony took place at Benchmark Senior Living at Split Rock in Shelton to remember the late son of a former Benchmark nurse.

The ceremony honored the memory of Eric D. Soufrine, son of Donna Soufrine, who was killed in action at age 20 while serving in the Army in Afghanistan in 2011.

Eric Soufrine had volunteered at another senior healthcare facility in Shelton, where his late grandmother had lived while suffering from dementia.

Veterans who are residents at Benchmark at Split Rock, a new senior living community, participated in the ceremony that was held to mark Flag Day. Shelton Police Chief Joel Hurliman, who is a veteran, and retired U.S. Navy Commander Daniel Russbach also participated.

Donna Soufrine spoke about rallying others to volunteerism in memory of her son. She said when Eric received his driver’s license, he began volunteering to call bingo for the seniors with dementia at Bishop Wicke Health Center in Shelton, where his grandmother lived.

Eric would also bring his mother ice cream and take her for short walks.

Donna Soufrine said Bishop Wicke residents and staff enjoyed Eric’s company, and that he brought much joy to others during his visits.

The ultimate sacrifice

A friend of the Soufrine family had suggested the Flag Day celebration at Benchmark at Split Rock be dedicated to Eric’s memory as a way to honor and remember his ultimate sacrifice, and to inspire others to continue his mission of volunteering with those with dementia.

“Volunteers have a special place in our hearts, providing connections with our residents and their families,” said Lidia Ayala, a care director at Benchmark at Split Rock’s dementia residential unit known as the Harbor.

The Soufrines are a military family, with at least 10 immediate family members who have served during major wars.

Benchmark Senior Living at Split Rock has independent, assisted, and memory care (dementia) living areas within the same building. A sensory garden at the facility will be dedicated to the memory of Eric’s grandmother.