Deerfield, a continuing care retirement / life plan community in Urbandale, IA, is about to lay claim to having the youngest senior living resident in the state.

Haley Jenkins, 21, a vocal performance major in her final year at Drake University in nearby Des Moines, is preparing to move into the Lifespace Communities-operated CCRC on Jan. 8.

“I’ll perform twice a month for residents and in return, I get to live here rent-free,” she said. Jenkins also will receive free meals and utilities as part of the deal, but she says she was most attracted to the arrangement because of the opportunity to hone her performance skills and add something unique to her resume.

“Whether you’re in your Mom’s womb, or struggling with Alzheimer’s, and all through life, people really respond to music in a beautiful way,” she said. “I can only hope to bring joy, or sadness — or whatever emotion people want to feel — through my music.”

Deerfield said it pursued the relationship with Drake’s music department in part because of the CCRC’s partnership with Masterpiece Living, an initiative that supports intergenerational life experiences as a way to help individuals enhance their emotional health.

“I’ve been in senior living more than two decades, and this is one of the more unusual partnerships I’ve seen,” said James Robinson, Deerfield’s executive director. “This particular situation provides not just an entertainment value in terms of music, but an opportunity for residents to interact with a bright and talented local student.”