WJU's Service for Social Action Center receives grant to continue volunteer program

  WJU News
  Monday, January 14, 2019 2:01 PM
  Service, WJU News

Wheeling, WV

The Service for Social Action Center, along with the Appalachian Institute, at Wheeling Jesuit University recently received a renewal for their grant project with the AARP Foundation and the Council of Independent Colleges. This is the second year that Wheeling Jesuit has been awarded the grant.

As a recipient of this grant, Wheeling Jesuit is one of twenty institutions involved with "Intergenerational Connections: Students Serving Older Adults." The goals of this overall project, set by AARP Foundation and the Council of Independent Colleges, are to develop a national network of student-led programs that serve low-income, older adults in college communities. This project directly helps to serve older adults, and also helps college students develop skills they can use in their personal and professional lives.   

"We have seen the impact this program has each week on our students involved with the project. They come back full of stories, and laughs! Many say the older adults remind them of their grandparents or other family members they do not get to see as often while they are here at school. It gives them a connection to the wider community, and a sense of belonging. They always have a great time interacting with the older adults and for many of our students it is the highlight of their week," said Colleen Ryan Mayrand, director of the service for social action center. 

This grant has allowed Wheeling Jesuit to develop a student-led program where students spend time with and learn from older adults in the local community. Students mostly volunteer with The Welty Home and Elmhurst House of Friendship. 

"I believe that as a society, we often leave the elderly population behind. Assisted living facilities are a wonderful resource, however, social isolation can be a problem. I think that both the residents of the assisted living facilities and our students benefit from the interaction as each group is able to learn something from the other. Forming a bond with other individuals seems to be such a simple task, but it can mean so much to just listen to another person's life story," said Sarah Blasiman, a student volunteer. 

This past fall semester, there were 63 students from Wheeling Jesuit that were involved with the project, and they completed 235 hours of service.

Ryan Mayrand explained, "We have students go to these sites five days a week and we are working on developing more connections at other locations. We also have had students with this project spend time in our campus garden and help deliver food to older adults in the local community."

Last year, the project donated 354 pounds of food to the Catholic Charities meal-delivery program.  

Maddie Davin, a student coordinator for the grant project, added, "I love working on this project because I think building intergenerational relations within our community is an important way of learning. CIC tries to foster this community by providing opportunities for college students to spend quality time with senior citizens, allowing for all involved to learn from each other and build meaningful relationships. We hope that our community only continues to grow and thrive through this project."

Wheeling Jesuit University is one of 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the country offering 25 majors and concentrations, 15 minors, and six graduate programs. The University provides a Jesuit, Catholic, liberal arts education, and our affordable programs unite the Jesuit tradition of intellectual excellence allowing students to receive an education for life, leadership and service with and among others. The 65-acre campus is situated on the Ohio River 50 miles south of Pittsburgh, and two hours east of Columbus, in Wheeling, WV.  

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