Multigenerational Programming: Connecting the Vibrancy of Youth with the Wisdom of Seniors

by Lynda Bussgang Rashi P’11, P’14, P’16

“Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God.”

-Leviticus 19:32:

In 2010, I joined the staff of Hebrew SeniorLife (HSL) when my three children were students at The Rashi School and my in-laws, Fay and Julian Bussgang (also TBE congregants), moved into HSL’s adjacent NewBridge on the Charles campus in Dedham. I saw a unique opportunity to meld my personal and professional interests to create a community where students could share their youthful vibrancy with an older generation and seniors could share their wisdom and warmth with youth.

Over these past eight years, I have helped develop a robust partnership, with a continuum of multigenerational experiences for Rashi K-8 students and seniors across the spectrum of care. Students and seniors celebrate Jewish holidays together. Weekly, seniors visit the school to help young students with reading while middle school students visit Alzheimer’s patients. Students interview residents about their life experiences, and much more.

The success between Rashi and NewBridge has sparked extensive multigenerational programming in five other HSL locations, including at supportive housing for low-income seniors. There are now more than 80 partnership multigenerational programs across the organization. This quote from a student highlights one of the many benefits:

“Today I met someone who I will never forget. Learning about her background and her life story opened my eyes up. She really inspired me to live life to the fullest. I will always keep her as an inspiration of my life.”

Whenever I describe my work, people sense my deep passion for what I do. Perhaps it is because my days are filled with beautiful, heart-warming moments that bring out the best in our kids and in a generation eager to leave a positive legacy.

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