After school in the Intergenerational Center at Hope Meadows. Photo credit: David Hopping
In a GHC, older adult residents occupy roles and engage in activities that amplify their standing as elders.
The engagement of older adults in a GHC strengthens their commitment to the neighborhood and the formation of meaningful relationships. On a daily basis they find themselves “giving back” and “making a difference.” This becomes a “way of life” giving these, the last years of their life, real meaning, purpose, and joy.
Older adults are obligated to engage regularly in a variety of supportive activities (mentoring, tutoring, gardening, etc.), while also being a caring friend, neighbor, and surrogate grandparent. It is this doing, sharing, and caring that gives life its true significance as illustrated by the following examples of daily life at Hope Meadows.
The following article was written about the engagement, over a summer, of older adults at Hope Meadows.
Hope Meadows starts the summer with a trip to Washington, D.C.
A Hope senior arranged all of the transportation, lodging, and sightseeing. The seniors who went on the trip were true “grandparents’” helping to watch over the kids the entire time, a major task to undertake, and accomplished in splendid fashion. The doing, sharing, caring attitude of the seniors really showed!
Throughout the summer seniors did interior painting in houses for incoming residents. Others stayed busy mowing grass, trimming bushes, weed-eating around foundations, removing grass from cracks in the sidewalks, and planting and maintaining flower beds on Hope’s formidable 22 acres. As a result, we have the best maintained neighborhood in town.
Senior assistance with the children this summer was overwhelming. The playground was monitored daily. Some days you could see seniors and children playing croquet, basketball, soccer and throwing Frisbees. The community center was always busy with the library and computer room open. The month of July was especially active, with one of our retired teachers and her husband, plus numerous other ladies helping with a host of activities featuring the theme of “The Ocean.” Puppets talked, sand castles were built, sand art was created, songs were sung, and games were played.
Following is another example of engagement as told to us by a long-time resident of Hope Meadows:
I picked up Shawn after school and took him to my sister’s farm for a visit. We met my nephew who looked down at the 6-year-old from the cab of his truck which was two stories high and said, “We have work to do!” Shawn grew 6 inches while riding in that giant truck. Then they got to a big field and my whole family—three generations—was there to greet him. Word of his coming had spread over CB radios.
Later Shawn hugged all those big men and told Grandpa Bruno that he love him. He brought such joy to my family. They were really touched by him, and it was so gratifying for me. On our way home Shawn started to tell me about his past, and said he had never seen so many nice daddies. He is one sweet little guy.
As these stories suggest, engagement becomes more than volunteering or participating in activities. It also involves being a caring friend, neighbor and surrogate grandparent. The result is that engagement becomes a deeply gratifying way of life.