CHS Students, Senior Citizens Explore Ways to Work Together

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The Senior Citizen Share group is inviting senior citizens and Columbia High School students to an intergenerational meet and greet at the CHS Cafeteria (17 Parker Avenue, Maplewood) on Saturday, Dec 13 from 1 – 3 p.m.

Students are asked to bring a light dessert and seniors to bring cheese and crackers or an antipasto item.

The event is the kick-off to an intergenerational service program, where students and seniors work together, sharing experiences and empowering each other.

“Each group has a lot to offer the other,” said Kurt Kiley, one of the organizers.

It is a joint effort between the seniors group and CHS students Dallas West and Andrea Johnston, who have been working with former CHS educator and community organizer Irene Dunsavage.

The Senior Share group was born out of meetings organized during Kiley’s campaign for Township Committee. During a debate, someone asked what candidates would do to improve the state of senior services in Maplewood, which are lacking compared to neighboring towns. “This is one of the first projects to come out of our fledgling group,” said Kiley.

Gary Jones, a Maplewood resident who ran for Essex County Freeholder who made senior services part of his platform, is also an organizer.

Saturday’s meeting will match students to seniors who need help with simple tasks such as leaf raking, snow shoveling, or light household tasks, said Dunsavage in an email.

The group will also explore other ways the two can help each other. For instance, said Kiley, “senior citizens have a wealth of experience they are willing to share that can be used to mentor students…while students can help seniors keep their life skills relevant in areas of new technology, social media, as well as assist with everyday activities,” he said.

The goal of the meeting is to find how both groups can complement each other and to put in place a structure that will help them work together most effectively.

One idea the group is exploring is reviving a program at CHS where students assist senior with basic technology needs, such as how to use email and social media.

The group wants to ensure that people of all generations remain active and productive members of the Maplewood community, Kiley said.

“This is important to keeping Maplewood attractive to people of all generations, and maintaining generational diversity. We would like Maplewood to be a place of lifelong living and learning.”

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