Hebrew SeniorLife’s Multigenerational Program represents an organizational commitment to bringing together youth and seniors to build mutually beneficial relationships at our nine campuses across Greater Boston. Through our 50+ partnerships with local schools, synagogues, and other community organizations, we provide the training and support to develop dynamic connections across generations and redefine the experience of aging.
Here is just one of the many stories about friendships forged through our programs.
Sam was a high school junior who dedicated much of his summer to volunteering at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center on the NewBridge on the Charles campus. Over the course of the summer, Sam learned to converse comfortably with a wide range of patients, and to skillfully use simple activities as vehicles for connection. To challenge the skills he had been developing, Sam had been preparing to lead a music program, individualized for a patient named Janice, on his own. The morning of the program, I helped him to get set up, and then stepped away to let him fly solo.
When I returned at the end of the session, I found that Sam and Janice had left. A nurse informed me that they had gotten to talking like old friends. She explained that they were so involved in their conversation that Janice nearly missed her hair appointment on the ground floor. When Janice realized how late it had gotten, Sam offered to wheel her to the salon. Sam’s gesture revealed a keen awareness of immediate patient needs and a responsibility to meet them in simple, meaningful ways.
Sam and Janice deepened their friendship over the summer, and I watched Sam grow into a more outgoing, self-assured version of himself. Sam is like so many of the individual youth we engage in multigenerational programming across Hebrew SeniorLife. With thorough training and ongoing support from staff, these young Multigenerational Program volunteers build remarkable social and emotional skills. Just as importantly, they develop a nuanced understanding of the challenges and opportunities of aging -- and an enduring connection to the generations before them.