Intergenerational program keeps Mercy Housing residents young at heart

Community Matters Newsletter – Fall 2012

The residents of Mercy Place Belmont in North Carolina have made some unlikely friends. Each month, a gaggle of giggly 8-year olds from a local boy’s bible study group visit the property and the seniors who call Mercy Place, home, for fun-filled activities and lots of laughs.

“In February, the boys came for a Valentine’s Day Party with the seniors. Everyone played games and shared refreshments. It was a lot of fun,” says Property Manager, Kate Hawkins. “In April the seniors invited them back to Mercy Place for an Easter egg hunt. The residents really enjoyed hiding the Easter eggs for the little guys. And in May the group came and prepared a Mother’s Day taco salad dinner for the residents. Everyone had a blast!”

Studies by the Senior Corp have shown that senior citizens who engage in community services tend to live longer and enjoy healthier lives than those who do not. After retirement, many people begin to experience physical and emotional challenges associated with the aging process. It’s easy for seniors to become reclusive and disengaged. Intergenerational programs like the one at Mercy Place offer senior participants the opportunity to get involved and feel valued. Conversely, such a partnership benefits the youngsters involved by giving them access to a wealth of experiences and knowledge through the residents’ own, personal stories and histories.

“It’s been a really great partnership,” says Hawkins. “The residents really look forward to the kids coming to visit, and the boys seem to really enjoy their time, here, too. It’s like having a room full of grandparents. And who wouldn’t love that?”