New club pairs collegians with residents at The Neighborhoods at Brookview

BROOKINGS – Residents at The Neighborhoods at Brookview nursing home now have the opportunity to be matched with a college student through the new South Dakota State University Adopt-A-Grandparent Club. 

“Adopt-A-Grandparent is a great Brookings volunteer opportunity while students attend SDSU,” Activities Director Amanda Uecker said. “It provides fulfillment for our residents, giving them a young person to build a relationship with and form a mutual bond. It also helps residents have a sense of purpose and belonging.”

The program pairs a nursing home resident with a student volunteer who commits to visiting with their adoptive grandparent for at least one year and spend a minimum of one hour per week with their resident. In addition, the club hosts large group activities for the residents on a monthly basis. Currently 26 students are paired with 28 nursing home residents, including one married couple. 

The club is the vision of two South Dakota State University students, Keri Pappas and Sophie McKee, who now serve as the club’s president and vice-president. They took the initiative to establish the club with the university first – including identifying an adviser and getting campus approval – and then reached out to The Neighborhoods at Brookview. 

“Organizations of this nature are popular among both high school and college students across the nation and have shown to be incredibly beneficial for both parties,” McKee said in her initial email inquiry to The Neighborhoods.

Uecker and Activities Assistant Jessie Kuechenmeister first met with Pappas and McKee in September 2018. They worked closely with the students, helping them to draft the club’s constitution and by-laws. After Pappas and McKee recruited club members this fall, Uecker and Kuechenmeister arranged volunteer training for the students and used a questionnaire to match residents to students based on mutual interests. 

Students began visiting their adoptive grandparents in November and have started spending one-on-one time together. Initial large group activities have included playing bingo and celebrating Christmas by decorating sugar cookies and making ornaments. 

“It’s truly neat to see residents and students enjoying time together,” Kuechenmeister said. “You can see the bonds already starting to form and the increased socialization of residents. The Adopt-A-Grandparent Club’s goal has already been met.”

The Neighborhoods at Brookview skilled nursing home offers short and long-term care to residents. The facility embraces the household model of care which aims to create a homelike, social setting for residents. Staff incorporates the five person-directed values in care: choice, dignity, respect, self-determination and purposeful living. For more information, please visit brookingshealth.org/Neighborhoods.

By: Brookings Health System

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