Generations Club adapts to virtual volunteering

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Photo courtesy of Kate Kotylar. The Generations Club working at a senior home before the Coronavirus pandemic.

Abby Wolf staff writer

In order to adapt to the change from in person volunteering with senior citizens to virtual meetings, the Generations Club is connecting through FaceTime, gifts, and a pen pal system. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Generations Club visited senior citizens living in assisted living homes.

“Usually…we would go to senior centers in the area and volunteer there. [We would] hang out with the residents and talk to them and play games,” President junior Maya Goldkorn said.

When the pandemic hit, the Generations Club had to adapt and spend their time with the seniors virtually, using apps like FaceTime and Zoom.

“A senior and a student would be paired and then once a week they would…get on a FaceTime call and…chat for half an hour [to an] hour,” Goldkorn said.

Many students in the club appreciate these calls with senior citizens because of the insight the students are given into the life of the seniors.

“I grew up without grandparents…and I haven’t really had the chance to interact with seniors, [so] it’s a really new experience and I really like it,” junior Temmie Park said.

The Generations Club created a system they call “pen-pals,” which takes place either over email or by mail between a student and their respectively assigned senior.

“Students and seniors write letters back and forth. For example, I’m corresponding with a 100-plus year old woman. I get to write letters to her and she gets to write letters to me,” Goldkorn said. 

Switching to a completely virtual communication system exposed some challenges, such as poor internet connection and technical difficulties. Despite these technical challenges, converting to online brought about some positives.

“It’s more flexible, especially in terms of the time commitment,” Goldkorn said. “Before, we would have certain days on the weekends where we would go as a group, but now it’s…everyone on their own time,” Goldkorn said. 

Junior Kate Kotlyar noticed a difference in the way she communicated with the seniors in person and virtually. 

“In my experience, when I was in person…it was easier to be kind of on the sidelines and stay back…But now it’s a lot more interactive with the seniors,” Kotlyar said. 

Kotlyar believes that the seniors appreciate the time they spend with the club members.

“It’s really nice brightening their day and making them smile,” Kotlyar said. 

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