Age-In-Place® was lucky enough to have an amazing group of seventh grade volunteers last month from GreenMount School. It is an independent school located in the Remington neighborhood of Baltimore, and serves Kindergarten through grade eight. Mr. Fletcher, the cultural studies teacher, brought the students to us the morning of March 22. Our project for the morning was yard work and kitchen cleaning for Mr. and Mrs. S in Ward 5. I am always hesitant when we have such young volunteers; not because they are bad kids, but they often lack maturity. And was I ever wrong about this group of young people! Noah, Lucy, Rose, Rowan, and Lily were the most mature seventh graders I have met, and from our initial meeting, I could tell this was going to be a fantastic group of volunteers.
Ingrid and I drove the group to Mr. and Mrs. S’ home on that chilly day, hoping it would warm up a little since we were doing yard work. When we arrived we unloaded the van, greeted Mrs. S, and divvied up the work. Lucy and Rose headed inside to clean the kitchen while everyone else prepared to work in the chill of the morning. Not once did I hear a complaint from anyone. They were there to serve Mr. and Mrs. S with dignity and respect.
Once our tasks were completed, Mrs. S invited everyone inside to warm up and have some cookies. As we sat around her dining room table, Mr. Fletcher asked Mrs. S where she was from originally, and this began a wonderful storytelling by her. She told the students what it was like to grow up African-American in the south during the 1950s and 60s. She spoke of segregated restaurants, water fountains, restrooms, and even attending a segregated school. All of us were hearing stories that we only read about. Lily commented as we headed out the door later that “we always read about this in books, but never from a real person that went through it.”
As a gerontology student, one of the recurring themes of older adult care is intergenerational care. It is so important to have younger generations interact with older generations because they can learn from each other. This day was important on so many levels, and I know it made a difference in both young and old alike.
Josh Graf is an intern with the Home First Age-In-Place® program. Josh will graduate this spring with a degree in gerontology from the University of Maryland. To volunteer with Age-In-Place® call (202) 635-9384.