Many people know NU-HOPE Elder Care Services primarily through the direct-services we provide. However, our mission statement actually has 3 other key components: Education, Leadership and Advocacy.
While direct-services focus on the current needs of seniors, Education, Leadership and Advocacy are equally important. Combined, they ensure that we have the knowledge and partnerships essential to meet future needs, as well.
These three components are the cornerstone of our newest program: the NU-HOPE Youth Leadership and Engagement Program.
Through our Youth Leadership and Engagement Program, NU-HOPE plans to work with a variety of youth-related organizations to increase awareness of the needs of older residents. Our overall goal is to create future leaders who have the compassion, experience and education necessary to build strong, supportive communities in the years ahead.
The formal program is still evolving, but during the early test-stages of the program, we have already seen great success.
Local high school students have volunteered at our group dining sites and thrift stores, learning about the needs of seniors, the our programs, the importance of community support, and various business concepts. Members of the Mason G. Smoak Foundation Youth Leadership Class have participated in annual sensitivity training sessions provided by NU-HOPE, experiencing many of the challenges faced by seniors through simulations (i.e. low vision/hearing, limited ambulation, loss of fine motor coordination). Members of the High School Key Club joined us at our Thanksgiving Dinner where they greeted, served, and interacted with our senior guests on this special day. Over the years, students have also participated in senior-themed art exhibits, assisted with activities at health/information fairs, and held food drives. Each one of these activities helped to build a bridge of awareness.
Leadership is a concept that is often taken for granted. However, to be effective, leaders need knowledge, compassion and awareness. Developing these leadership qualities is essential if we are to create strong communities that support the needs of all members, including its older residents.
We are excited by the prospects of this inter-generational program and look forward to continuing the partnerships that make such a program possible.