by Dani Dubois
Adopt A Grandparent will serve to connect Whitworth students to the surrounding nursing and retirement community. The club will provide a way for students to spend time in fellowship with elderly citizens.
“Whitworth University’s Adopt A Grandparent is a faith-based program seeking to connect students with residents living in nursing and retirement homes to ‘Adopt a grandparent,’” according to the club’s constitution.
Adopt A Grandparent was officially chartered this spring, but will begin in fall 2011.
“The goal of our club is to fill the need for Christ-centered companionship with the elderly,” said sophomore Zach Autry, president of Adopt A Grandparent.
Each student volunteer will be paired with an elderly person, and will be expected to meet with him or her at least once a week. Activities can include playing games, playing music and talking.
According to the club’s constitution, “students will be paired up with one or more seniors in the hopes of fostering lifelong relationships.”
Autry said Katie Apland, Adopt A Grandparent vice president and sophomore music major, was the inspiration for the club.
“Last year I started playing piano for an hour per week at a retirement home,” Apland said. “While I was talking with them, I was struck with the loneliness and hopelessness of their last days.”
Apland said she was surprised to find that Whitworth did not have a club that coupled students with retirement homes.
Autry said the club will work with volunteers to place them in a retirement or nursing home, and work to provide transportation needs between Whitworth and the residency. Adopt A Grandparent will serve to provide logistics as a go-between.
Students may also volunteer to provide transportation. Autry said he hopes the club will be largely volunteer-initiated.
The club members plan to host events in fall 2011 to raise awareness for their club and the need in Spokane’s community.
Students who wish to become involved with Adopt A Grandparent should contact Apland at email@example.com or Autry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students For Education Reform has opened a chapter at Whitworth to raise awareness and involvement in closing the achievement gap in Spokane. SFER Whitworth seeks to inform Whitworth students and motivate them to take action.
“We want to mobilize Whitworth students to do something about inequity,” said sophomore Macy Olivas, president of SFER Whitworth. “We want to inform them about the achievement gap and about educational policy.”
Olivas defined the achievement gap as the relationship between the quality of education a student receives and his or her socioeconomic status and race.
“We believe it is a social injustice to limit a student’s quality of education based on the neighborhood they live in and their parents’ income,” Olivas said. “Everyone should have equal access to great education.”
This view is held by the national SFER organization. Students For Education Reform was founded by two undergraduate students at Princeton University. There are now 20 chapters nationwide, including SFER Brown, SFER Harvard and SFER Yale.
SFER Whitworth’s constitution states their mission: “to close the achievement gap and ensure an excellent education for all children by mobilizing the next generation of leaders in education reform.”
SFER Whitworth plans to be a presence in the Spokane community. Olivas said the club’s activities will include holding Saturday SAT prep classes for high school students, screening movies on education, bringing in guest speakers from organizations like Teach for America and visiting and serving local schools.
“Another emphasis the club will have is on vocation, using the skills you have to mentor other students,” said sophomore Marissa Ranno, secretary of SFER Whitworth.
Olivas said SFER Whitworth will also align with already established mentoring programs to help support their efforts.
“Everyone has a role to play in this movement,” Olivas said. “We’re trying to involve all Whitworth students. No matter your academic major, we can use you to help ensure that one day all students can be on the path to attending the college of their dreams.”
SFER Whitworth will hold an informational meeting Thursday, May 5, at 8 p.m. Students interested in joining the club should attend the meeting. The club’s executive members will be actively planning over the summer for fall semester events.