Village at Penn State (VPS) resident Helen Manful marked her 80th birthday this fall by reading to her class of three and four year olds at the Pennsylvania State University Child Care Center at Hort Woods in State College, Pa. Before beginning her story she asked the children to guess how old she was. The final answer (to her delight): 24.
“When I told them that I was 80 they giggled!”
A former Penn State University Professor of Theater and VPS resident representative on the PSU Connect Committee, Helen is one of seven VPS residents who have been sharing their time and talents every week since July 2012 with the children who attend Hort Woods Day Care. The intergenerational program is a continuation of the PSU Child Development Lab in the College of Health and Human Development and was inspired by Linda Duerr, former director of the day care center, who developed the curriculum around “aging together.”
“I wanted to go beyond just ‘visiting the elderly’ by really bringing the two ends of the life span together to learn and support each other,” says Linda.
Sharing Knowledge and Experience
Dick Farrand, a stamp collector, has been happy to share his love of stamps with the children in the “Roof Top Roots” class of three and four year olds. Using VPS’ recycled mail bin, Dick has been collecting stamps to create books for each child. “Each of the children has his or her own stamp book and it’s wonderful to see how they are learning to match the stamps and carefully paste them in their books,” he says.
Program Specialist, Misty Woods, says the volunteers provide the children with exposure to a wide range of knowledge and experience that they might not have on a regular basis. “Today, many children have long-distance relationships with their grandparents. Their on-going relationships with the VPS volunteers have become very important to them.”
For Helen Manful, who sometimes has the children act out plays, the feeling is mutual. “What fun we have!”
The Village at Penn State, founded in 2003, officially joined the non-profit Liberty Lutheran’s family of services in June 2012. A nationally recognized university-based, non-profit retirement community in State College, Pa., VPS provides a continuum of living options for adults 62-plus, including independent, personal care and skilled nursing services on site. Residents of VPS experience unique access to Penn State’s educational classes, cultural programs and sporting events, as well as many other opportunities through its proximity to the University.
About Liberty Lutheran
Incorporated in 2001 and headquartered in Ambler, Pa., the non-profit human services organization, Liberty Lutheran, with its more than 25 locations and combined service history of 300 years, faithfully provides vital resources to individuals and families facing life-changing situations. These individualized services include independent and assisted living, skilled nursing, rehabilitation, hospice care, in-home supports, wellness services, children and family services, integration services for immigrants and political refugees, and disaster response. Liberty Lutheran’s team of dedicated employees serves individuals and families through their family of services in Eastern Pennsylvania, including Artman Lutheran Home, Paul’s Run Retirement Community, Liberty at Home, Lutheran Children and Family Services, Lutheran Congregational Services, Mary J. Drexel Home, and The Village at Penn State. www.libertylutheran.org