In March 2020 at the onset of the pandemic, NYFSC initiated a program called “GenerationsConnect.” It pairs carefully screened, matched and trained teen volunteers with older adults (called “buddies”) to help the participating seniors relieve feelings of loneliness and depression during social isolation.
Weekly, the teens and seniors meet virtually, one-on-one, to discuss mutual interests and share experiences. Some of the teen volunteers, who speak Mandarin, Cantonese and Spanish, have been communicating with the seniors in their native languages. These relationships have actually become like grandparent/grandchild connections.
To expand GenerationsConnect, in coordination with Theatre Development Fund (TDF), NYSFC now arranges for the teen volunteers and their older adult buddies to view and discuss films via Zoom. The seniors are trained by the teens to feel more comfortable using their electronic devices to access Zoom and participate in these events.
All older adults participating in NYFSC-sponsored housing and senior centers or in Home Sharing, Respite Care and all other programs are eligible for GenerationsConnect.
- 疫期關懷獨居老人 華青發起溫馨「祖孫交流」 (World Journal, 1/31/2021)
- Caring for the elderly living alone during the pandemic, Chinese-American youth launches “Generations Connect.” (World Journal, 1/31/2021)
Other Intergenerational Activities
Some of the more successful experiments of NYFSC include its intergenerational projects. For example, the Arthur B. Brown and William Brown Garden’s senior citizen building’s teenage volunteer program, coordinated with local schools on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, welcomes student volunteers to organize and coordinate group activities including entertainment, gardening, creative writing, sewing, card playing, bingo and exercise classes. These leisure-time activities enrich the ambience of the building and the lives of its residents.
NYFSC has also developed a foster grandparent program for the residents of its Enriched Housing Program and children from local schools. Through sharing gardening and other projects, the elderly and neighborhood children have developed mutually rewarding relationships, one of NYFSC’s continuing goals.