Fairen Stark, a sophomore at Leland & Gray Union Middle and High School, played guitar and sang at The Gathering Place as a 3GC participant. It was her first solo performance in public.
3 Generations Collaboration may be contacted at 802-428-4333 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Service opportunities for youth and senior citizens are listed at www.team3gc.org, along with a donation wish list. Those who don’t use a computer are always welcome to find out about needs and opportunities by phone.
Originally published in The Commons issue #404 (Wednesday, April 19, 2017).
TOWNSHEND—About two years ago, Jim Zoller and Janis Hall were discussing the fact that the great majority of volunteers who help elders are themselves senior citizens.
Zoller, whose work experience includes youth group homes, and Hall, who was working with the nonprofit Senior Solutions, decided it was time to start connecting more teens with elders through community service and volunteering.
They have launched a project called 3 Generations Collaboration, which received small grants in 2016 from the Vermont Community Foundation, the George Ramlose Foundation, and the Ben and Jerry’s Community Team. The group is matching youth and older adults with community service opportunities, with the goal of improving lives and building connections across the generations in the West River Valley.
The connections flow in both directions: there are community service roles in which youth help older adults, but also opportunities for older adults to help youth.
For example, teachers would like elders to join classroom discussions about topics such as social justice, ageism, and historical events. Furthermore, a youth who serves an older adult in a one-on-one role may end up with a good reference for college or job applications.
Cooperating with other groups such as Valley Cares, local schools, and the various senior community meal programs, 3GC is working on defining more service opportunities, recruiting to fill them, and monitoring the success of the matches.
The Gathering Place serves as fiscal sponsor, providing a nonprofit umbrella that allows 3 Generations Collaboration to receive grants and tax-deductible donations. Hall and Zoller are seeking a new fiscal sponsor to start in July, and encourage any organization with a compatible mission to contact them and learn more about sponsorship.
Other organizations in the greater West River Valley region are also encouraged to contact 3GC for help developing volunteer roles that bring together youth and elders and can be fulfilled by 3GC participants.
Sophomore Fairen Stark was the first Leland & Gray student to participate in community service with 3 Generations Collaboration. Taking advantage of a couple of days when her school was closed in February and March, she got a ride into Brattleboro with her mother to perform for elders and disabled guests of The Gathering Place adult day care center.
At her first appearance, Stark played the guitar and sang, eliciting smiles and even some singing-along from the audience.
In March, she teamed up with an older adult volunteer to perform flute and recorder duets. The role of 3GC was to identify a need that matched Fairen’s interests, and then to schedule and coordinate so that everything went smoothly.
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