The Sarah Community (TSC) is proud to work together with the University of Missouri St Louis to offer the Intergenerational Living Project (ILP) to the communities we serve. Mary Beth Hunt, Executive Director says that the program is the first of its kind in the region and invites students to live rent free within our retirement community. Students have unlimited opportunities to interact with residents, managers, and leaders at TSC with the aim of meeting their learning goals. Residents are given the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of the next generation. Ken Dowden, resident remarked that the project “is one of the greatest things we have ever done” at TSC.
Gerontology and Social Work students are often among the applicants for the program. While at TSC, students complete Life Review projects and design scrapbooks for residents that reflect the memorable moments and accomplishments of their lives. They have use of the Fitness Center, are welcome to share evening meals with residents, and are invited to participate in other community events as they are available. Students are free to set additional learning goals under the supervision of UMSL faculty with input from TSC leadership.
We welcomed Emily Bauer as our first ILP student in the spring of 2018. She came to us as a graduate student in the UMSL Gerontology program, with a BA in Sociology. As someone who has always been drawn to being with seniors, Emily enjoyed living with our residents especially spending one-on-one time with them. Bernice Brockmeyer said that she enjoyed how Emily mingled with residents and was sincerely interested in getting to know them. Together, she and her husband “Red” found conversation with Emily to be enjoyable and “enlightening”.
The Intergenerational Living Project has been a Win-Win for Emily, residents, and staff. Emily had the opportunity to design her learning objectives in conjunction with TSC representatives and UMSL faculty. Her experiences were focused on developing a deeper understanding of what seniors go through when faced with life changes. She offered residents the opportunity to create DVDs about their lives that they could share with loved ones, and also created memory books. Emily spent time with every manager at TSC to better understand the inner workings of our retirement community and twice visited with Missouri State legislators in Jefferson City to advocate for seniors.
Now that her graduate work is completed, Emily is moving on to the next chapter of her life. Emily says that the opportunity to live at TSC contributed to her discernment process to become a postulant with the Benedictine Sisters of Mount St Scholastica in Atchison, Kansas. As she begins her formation to become a Benedictine nun, residents and staff at TSC send her off with good wishes and sincere prayers for her as her future unfolds.