When Friend to Friend was founded in 1974, it served only in traditional nursing homes in Seattle, Washington and most of our volunteers were adults.
In 2001 this statistic “Nationally, six out of ten residents in nursing homes never have a visitor” published in a Seattle Times article highlighted the need to address senior isolation and increase our volunteer recruitment.
Today is 2015, and the need is growing as our baby boomers are beginning to enter into retirement facilities and our seniors aren’t just going into traditional nursing homes and retirement facilities, they are going into adult family homes. To address this need Friend to Friend America has expanded our program service area to include visitation to Adult Family Homes, as well as to serve in over 300 traditional senior living facilities in Washington State.
To recruit our next generation of volunteers, we have developed a new project that will bring seniors from local high schools together with senior citizens in local senior living facilities. This project is “Senior to Senior” and it will increase intergenerational awareness, decrease the isolation of senior citizens, all while fostering understanding and compassion between the two generations. Our Senior to Senior program will match these local students with local senior citizens and will do so at no cost to the student, the community, or the school district.
Senior to Senior will increase intergenerational awareness, foster comfort, understanding and compassion between different generations potentially improving graduation rates in students. Participants will receive training, including orientation, background check, and sensitivity training before being matched. They will also have access to and receive ongoing support from FTFA staff and volunteers to facilitate the visits as needed.
Students and seniors meet once a week, one on one for a minimum of one year. It is truly our hope that these become lifelong friendships valued by both generations.
This will be a life-changing, intergeneration experience for both seniors. This connection will inspire compassion benefitting both generations by fostering tolerance, respect, and understanding of the attitudes, concerns and challenges faced by each generation. An added bonus to this project is that the senior class member may be eligible to use these rewarding volunteer hours towards their graduation requirements.
If you are a guidance counselor or student interested in the Senior to Senior program, please call Lisa Slavik, Executive Director at 206-870-4266 today.