Lynda Bussgang is the Multigenerational Program Manager at Hebrew SeniorLife, responsible for overseeing and developing multigenerational programs for all of Hebrew Senior Life’s senior housing communities.
How did you get involved with Hebrew SeniorLife?
When The Rashi School started talking about building a new home on the Newbridge campus, I had a vested interest in the efforts between the two organizations because I had three children at The Rashi School and my in-laws were new residents in the independent living community at NewBridge on the Charles. When The Rashi School opened its doors, HSL made a decision to invest in the relationship by hiring a part-time staff member to explore programmatic opportunities. After taking on the position, my role really quickly expanded from working with just Rashi to exploring opportunities with the Dedham Public Schools and other institutions.
Multigenerational programming is growing across HSL thanks to a gift from the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson Foundation. What have you discovered from other sites, and how is this new level of coordination helping everyone?
One of the best opportunities for me and others across the organization is our new Multigenerational Task Force comprised of staff members from every site. We meet quarterly to share best practices and talk about how to support multigenerational program growth across the organization. It has been a wonderful opportunity to step outside our own locations and explore creative options to meet the needs of seniors through varied multigenerational programs.
We have also drawn attention internally and externally to the great work that is happening at our sites connecting seniors in independent living communities with communities at large. Our Simon C. Fireman community in Randolph has a strong creative partnership with the Curry College Nursing program. The Task Force is also learning from Hebrew Rehabilitation Center-Boston’s Alzhiemer’s Buddies program, in collaboration with Harvard College. The Jack Satter House in Revere is expanding its new partnership with Cohen Hillel Academy in Marblehead. Center Communities of Brookline is developing deep connections with Brookline high school students working on community projects as well as with students from local elementary schools.
What’s coming up?
We are developing a pilot program to creatively use iPads with multigenerational audience. Mobile technology is second nature to young people, so they are the perfect teachers to bring this tool to seniors. Starting in early 2014, we will begin at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center-Boston and at NewBridge on the Charles. At NewBridge, Rashi students will have an afterschool program to support residents with iPads. We are also planning a partnership with Dedham High School students to provide for tech support and guidance.
You are a very accomplished vocalist and NewBridge residents have been treated to performances by you in the past. Do you have any plans to perform locally again?
I do have a background in musical theatre, having performed with a professional theatre company as a child, then in summer stock and in training programs all the way through college. After graduating from Harvard College, I pursued a career in musical theatre full time in New York City but quickly realized the lifestyle wasn’t for me. I still do a lot of performing with two other women and we entertained the NewBridge community in September of 2012. We do mostly Broadway and some doo-wop 50s music. We’ve had lots of requests for another show and would love to plan one in the year ahead.