NEW YORK - Nursing home residents in Washington Heights are engaging in some mental calisthenics.

Using each letter of the alphabet to brainstorm ideas about who and what they can bring and who they might invite to a party. 

The exercise is designed to keep their minds active.

Their lead party planner, 76-year-old Jane Rainone, is there through New York Cares, an organization that offers New Yorkers thousands of volunteer opportunities across the five boroughs in places like the Isabella House adult care center.

"I don't need all the time to go to a bar or to go to a movie. But I need the time to give back," Rainone said.

The Manhattan resident caught the volunteering bug 18 years ago when she helped out at a nursing home in Greenwich Village.

Rainone began volunteering at Isabella House about seven years ago.

Every second Monday of the month, she works with the men and women here to get their brains churning.

"We want people to think. Just because you're here doesn't mean you can't think," Rainone said.

She specifically works with residents at night so they have something to do after dinner.

"Otherwise they they would sit around and do nothing. And you know what? It's so easy to put somebody to bed but it's so much better to keep them up with us," Rainone said.

During our visit at Isabella House resident Inez Woodhouse worked with Rainone for the first time.

"It helps. It helps my mind. It helps the way I feel," Woodhouse said.

Rainone says she finds it especially meaningful helping seniors like Woodhouse as the holidays approach.

"Seeing how many people don't have that person, it means so much to me that I can be part of the people who don't have somebody," Ronaine said.

So, for helping seniors stay sharp and giving them company this holiday season and all year ‘round, Jane Rainone is our New Yorker of the Week.