Something remarkable and meaningful happens when people from two diametrically different generations come together and build friendships.
This extraordinary dynamic has taken hold at The Hearth through Lower Merion High School’s Build On program, a community service initiative in which students, grades nine through twelve, share games, laughter, and heartfelt camaraderie with Hearth residents.
“It’s marvelous having the students visit,” says Ruth, a Hearth resident. The feeling is mutual. Linda, who is in twelfth grade, says that she’s discovered interesting commonalities between her own millennial generation and the pre-Baby Boomer Silent Generation from which our residents hail. “We have a lot of similar opinions and common ground on things like movies and music even though we’re in different age groups,” she says.
Madison, a sophomore, says she is looking forward to learning so much from the residents. “I’m hoping to learn from the residents here because they’re so experienced and so amazing. I just love interacting with people who know so much about life.”
A Perfect Connection
It is, according to Megan Calel, Household Coordinator, a perfect kinship between residentsand students. “It really is wonderful that Lower Merion High School is connecting with The Hearth because so many of our residents have graduated from there, or have had their children or grandchildren there.”
As for the students, says Megan, they really value the opportunity to spend time with residents. “The students have lived in this area for most, if not all, of their lives and are very entrenched in this community as are most of our residents.”
Currently seven or eight students visit each week and the number is gradually growing. Tom Reed, a ninth grade teacher at Lower Merion High School and the sponsor of Build On, says the students appreciate how The Hearth supports them every step of the way and encourages them to use their skills to enhance the lives of residents.
“It’s wonderful how our students are able to form relationships with residents, explore common interests, and then work together and play together. The array of opportunities enables both the students and residents to really form a bond,” he says.