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BYU-Idaho students are getting to know the elderly of the Rexburg area every Saturday with the Adopt a Grandparent program. To provide conversation and learn from older people’s wisdom, students visit a rest home in Rexburg, Rigby or Idaho Falls.

The Student Activities Center coordinates the trip every Saturday, and it is led mostly by student volunteers.

Shawn Allen, a junior studying chemistry, got involved with the program this semester.

“It’s not a long commitment,” Allen said. “People forget that when you serve others, you get this feeling that drives you to serve more. I feel like that kind of gets lost in the stress of school. There is so much that comes from serving.”

Students volunteering to serve meet every Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Manwaring Center roundabout, where 12-passenger vans take students to various rest homes for one hour.

Each weekend, students take ukuleles, games and nail polish with them, and they spread out into the common areas and individual rooms to meet the people in the home.

One resident, Cleo, brings out folding lawn chairs and tells the volunteers about his wife, his children and what his days look like.

“You kids really have your whole lives ahead of you,” Cleo said. “I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday.”

Adopt a Grandparent’s goal is to encourage personal and reoccurring visits for the elderly people they visit.

“Now we want to be able to go to a home and plan it a week in advance and be like ‘Oh, this next home we are going to has five people that love puzzles, and John doesn’t leave his bedroom, but he loves to be read to, so let’s bring his favorite book,'” Allen said. “‘These are their favorite songs, can you play the guitar, can you play the piano?’ We want it to be super customized.”

Students sat in the main room of the home and sang hymns with the residents on Saturday. One resident, Marva, led the group by waving her hand and took requests from students and residents alike.

“Oh, I love this song and the size of our group,” Marva said as she stood up with her walker at the end of the meeting.

Students are encouraged to bring their activities and talents for the residents.

“If any of them have talents, we want them to utilize their talents so they can do what they love for people they are learning to love,” Allen said. “Different people bring different touches. We welcome literally all the ideas.”

The appeal of Adopt a Grandparent is more than service hours or a one-time visit. John L. Clarke, former president of Ricks College, said, “BYU-Idaho was founded upon the firm belief there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people.”

Those extraordinary possibilities can be found in both the students and the elderly people involved in the Adopt a Grandparent program.

Each weekend, students take ukuleles, games and nail polish with them, and they spread out into the common areas and individual rooms to meet the people in the home.

One resident, Cleo, brings out folding lawn chairs and tells the volunteers about his wife, his children and what his days look like.

“You kids really have your whole lives ahead of you,” Cleo said. “I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday.”

Adopt a Grandparent’s goal is to encourage personal and reoccurring visits for the elderly people they visit.

“Now we want to be able to go to a home and plan it a week in advance and be like ‘Oh, this next home we are going to has five people that love puzzles, and John doesn’t leave his bedroom, but he loves to be read to, so let’s bring his favorite book,'” Allen said. “‘These are their favorite songs, can you play the guitar, can you play the piano?’ We want it to be super customized.”

Students sat in the main room of the home and sang hymns with the residents on Saturday. One resident, Marva, led the group by waving her hand and took requests from students and residents alike.

“Oh, I love this song and the size of our group,” Marva said as she stood up with her walker at the end of the meeting.

Students are encouraged to bring their activities and talents for the residents.

“If any of them have talents, we want them to utilize their talents so they can do what they love for people they are learning to love,” Allen said. “Different people bring different touches. We welcome literally all the ideas.”

The appeal of Adopt a Grandparent is more than service hours or a one-time visit. John L. Clarke, former president of Ricks College, said, “BYU-Idaho was founded upon the firm belief there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people.”

Those extraordinary possibilities can be found in both the students and the elderly people involved in the Adopt a Grandparent program.


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