When Leslie Hennessey began her position as South Hadley’s new senior center director, she was eager to help forge intergenerational relationships in her community. Thanks to Bridges Together, she convened a Community Intergenerational Leadership Team comprised of the following individuals:
- Nicholas Young, Superintendent of South Hadley Public Schools
- Brian Willette, Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) Post 3104 Commander
- Joe Rodio, Library Director of South Hadley Public Library
- Sheila Adams, Chair of the Friends of the Senior Center
After learning about the scope of intergenerational engagement during Bridges Together’s Step by Step workshop, the team decided to focus efforts on veterans and high school students.
The first program was a breakfast for veterans and their guests. High school students prepared the food, greeted the honorees and provided musical entertainment. Members of the Leadership Team led a short program/ service which included a ceremony where they and students pinned the veterans. They hoped that about 20 veterans would come. Dream big! About 100 attended! Highlights included students talking with veterans and seeing the scrapbook of a World War II Veteran, as well as a tribute to graduating high school seniors who were enlisting. Powerful stuff!
Read a newspaper article here and check out their summary of this process.
Learning the nuts and bolts of effective intergenerational programs, the team expanded their efforts to include:
- Older people going into history classes to share first hand accounts
- Students going to the senior center to do technology tutoring
- A “Stuff the Bus” event where older community members filled a bus with school supplies for low-income students
- The Bridges program in the 4th grade
- Inviting Andrea Fonte Weaver to be a guest speaker at the American International College
We talk about the importance of convening a leadership team committed to intergenerational engagement – which begins with one program and expands to create a culture of age-integration. South Hadley is doing an exemplary job (click here to see the teams final presentation)! Go South Hadley!