My involvement with the Adopt-A-Grandparent program has been an extraordinarily valuable experience for me. I started volunteering my junior year and regret having not started earlier because by the first week of my involvement in the program, I had already found a very special place amongst a community of wonderful residents and staff at Odd Fellows. I love being able to engage creatively with the vibrant group of residents in the Mudhut, Odd Fellows ceramic studio, and share stories and music with those at the Friday ice cream socials.
Now, as this year’s AAG intern, I am privileged to have an even more engaging role in this fantastic program. I am amazed at the number of students involved in AAG and their continued dedication through multiple years. It is exciting to be able to bring new students into the program and to organize fun events where all of the grandparents and grandkids can be brought together. I continue to meet new residents, students, and staff every day, and, through this position, am learning so much about the effort, time, and commitment needed to sustain such a program as AAG. I am continuously looking for ways to improve the AAG program and hope to incorporate more education and reflection into this year’s program to further enhance student service.
So far, the best part in this position is being able to facilitate other students’ engagement with grandparents and to hear, as a result, wonderful stories from both grandparents and grandkids. Just last week, a resident approached me bearing a big grin saying, “I love my Whitman grandchild; we’re going to get along so well!” It is also such a privilege to be able to see Whitman students take initiative and lead activity groups, swimming classes, etc. I am impressed and amazed by the extent to which many Whitman students go to enrich the life of their grandparent. It is humbling.
As a senior, I look ahead with sadness at having to say goodbye to the many grandparents and friends I have thanks to the AAG program. In committing my time to this program, with the intent of enriching the life of residents at Odd Fellows, I have in return been so greatly enriched. I have learned, in my many conversations with grandparents, about love, loss, life, values, morals, death, grief, regret, and the list goes on. I remember distinctly one grandparent telling me over ice cream, “I have made many mistakes in my life, but I don’t regret any of them. I’m still here so I must have done something right!” I find this statement empowering. I am so thankful for my experiences with the AAG program, for the many individuals who have encouraged me throughout, and for the stories, laughs, and tears shared with my many “adopted” grandparents. It is with gratitude that I will be taking my experiences from AAG with me as I leave Walla Walla this spring and move forward in my life.