The organizer of a new intergenerational program in Chilliwack is currently looking for seniors to sign up for weekly chats with some local youth.
Connie Stam with the Compassionate Neighbourhood Health Partners Society has been busy recruiting people age 15 to 29 over the past few weeks and is now wanting to match them with some seniors who would enjoy a regular phone conversation.
The pairs are matched based on common interests, be it photography, hunting, fishing or fibre arts.
About 50 youth have signed up so far – some of which have already been matched with seniors – and the youth/senior pairs will soon be talking to each other over the phone or via video calls.
It counts towards the volunteer hours required for high school graduation, and Stam had no problem getting youth to sign up since volunteer opportunities have been hard to find due to COVID-19.
“They keep pouring in and pouring in because they can’t do their volunteer hours,” she said.
The intergenerational program runs from mid-January until the end of March where the pairs are require to have at least one 30-minute call every week together.
“For the senior, this is their opportunity to tell their story,” Stam said.
Some of the youth will be writing down the stories for the seniors as a memoir, which would later be printed into a little booklet for the seniors to hand down to their grandchildren.
Some seniors simply want to chat. They may talk about their travels or their time in the war.
“They’re going to get a lot of life experience from these seniors,” she said.
There’s even opportunities for the youth to learn from the seniors how to do things via video.
“I’ve got a senior who would like to teach a youth how to knit… over Zoom, trying to teach them the first steps of knitting,” Stam said.
It’s also an opportunity for the seniors to learn something too, as the youth could help them figure out a software program or different types of technology.
At this point there will not be any physical meetings due to COVID-19, but Stam is hoping the pairs will be able to meet each other in person in the near future.
With the youth recruited, Stam is now inviting seniors to join the program, especially men.
“We also welcome people who are in supportive or assisted living, or even long-term care, as long as they have a phone and they are able to communicate with the youth.”
Thirteen youth have already begun orientation, and Stam is encouraging more male youth to join. The deadline for youth to register is Friday, Jan. 15, but seniors do not have to sign up by that deadline.
Those interested in joining can contact Connie Stam for more information either by phone at 604-798-2023, or by email at email@example.com.