Pfeiffer University announces that it is one of a select group of 21 institutions across the nation chosen by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) to receive a grant in the amount of $13,000 to implement an Intergenerational Connections: Students Serving Older Adults program. The one-year grant will be used to enhance connections between undergraduate students and older adults in the community.
CIC launched this new initiative with support from the AARP Foundation to encourage colleges to create or extend programs for which students help low-income older adults tackle key life challenges. These typically include hunger, safe and affordable housing, income-generation and social isolation. The 21 colleges and universities will be part of a new network of colleges that the AARP Foundation hopes will help establish best practices for engaging students in meeting the challenges of older adults in the communities surrounding their campuses.
“CIC hopes this pilot project will serve as a first step toward the development of a national network of programs on independent college and university campuses that promote intergenerational interaction between students and community members,” said Richard Ekman, CIC president.
With its CIC grant, Pfeiffer will implement Growing a Legacy: Students and Seniors Serving Together to Combat Hunger Among Elders, a program that offers Pfeiffer students, senior citizens, and youth and community groups opportunities to serve side-by-side in Pfeiffer’s Hunger Relief Garden. An intergenerational advisory committee will be created to bring together students, community partners and local seniors to plan programming and create a blueprint for adapting the garden so it can be fully utilized by people with a wide range of skill and ability levels. Funding makes possible options such as creating wheelchair accessibility, heightened vegetable beds, wider paths between beds, seating and more.
“Seniors in our community possess a great deal of knowledge and experience to share with younger generations,” said Kelly Misiak, director of service scholars for The Francis Center for Servant Leadership, which is managing the project. “Through this project, we aim to give them an opportunity to shine through service that is accessible and adaptive—and for each volunteer to take home up to five pounds of fresh produce weekly from the garden.”
Pfeiffer will work with longstanding community partners Stanly County Senior Services and Stanly County Meals on Wheels to identify seniors interested in participating. Student interns will be employed to help Francis Center personnel administer the advisory committee and evaluate program effectiveness. Last year, the Hunger Garden produced more than 400 pounds of produce that was donated to local nonprofit organizations that serve impoverished populations and communities. Last winter, the garden was relocated from its original spot on campus to another that will allow its growing capacity to increase by more than 400 percent.
Intergenerational Connections: Students Serving Older Adults (2017–2018) grant recipients include Bay Path University, Bridgewater College, Caldwell University, Campbell University, Coe College, Dominican University, Dominican University of California, Elizabethtown College, Goodwin College, Hilbert College, Holy Names University, Jarvis Christian College, Meredith College, Our Lady of the Lake University, Pfeiffer University, Rust College, Shenandoah University, Springfield College, Wheeling Jesuit University, Whitman College and Wofford College. For more information about the project and the participating institutions, visit www.cic.edu/programs/intergenerational-connections.