Volunteer teens of SeniorLink, a non-profit headquartered near Philadelphia, PA, are searching for fellow service-minded teens nationwide to join in bridging the inter-generational divide by establishing local SeniorLink chapters this summer and beyond. By doing so, teens also bolster qualifications for college and job applications.
SeniorLink sponsors youth leaders to connect older generations to younger ones, and seeks to build a stronger sense of citizenship and collaboration in the community. Historically, SeniorLink has done so by introducing the world of technology to senior home residents, but now student leaders can gain access to SeniorLink's resources and network to generate new SeniorLink chapters providing a variety of services by youth volunteers for elders who may feel disconnected with their community. "Want to start a card game chapter? A music chapter? All ideas are welcome," says Vinay Trivedi, the President and Founder of SeniorLink, now a student at Harvard University.
Inspiration for SeniorLink came from one of Trivedi's personal heroes, his late grandfather, who felt disconnected from the community and wanted to learn how to use computers before his death. "The key is to keep minds alert and active, and that is an underlying purpose of our mission," said Trivedi. "My grandfather was one of the most generous people I ever knew, even though he did not have the world's riches. I want to follow in his footsteps."
"Internet skills taught by our current teen volunteers have already opened up a world of information and social connections for senior citizens," said Trivedi. "They now feel more connected to family, friends and society."
Mabel Turner serves, in her 70's, as chairman of her residents' association at Wood River Village in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. SeniorLink teens taught her word processing applications to better manage bookkeeping and meeting notes. "They've saved me hours of typing now that I've learned how to copy, cut and paste text from last month's meeting notes into this month's," says Turner. And, once taught, Wood River residents' use of the Internet is similar to those found in the list of top Web sites visited by seniors nationwide. "I used the Internet to buy these sneakers," says Jean Cuthbert, Turner's fellow resident.
Trivedi is passionate about the new campaign. He, Kokroo and other volunteers were recognized nationally last year with other outstanding youth carrying out projects, in a campaign about "What's right with American teenagers today." The National Encouragement Foundation honored them at a ceremony in New York City on the annual National Day of Encouragement, September 12. SeniorLink also participated in the Encouragement Foundation's web site and video announcements for the Encouragement Foundation's 7 Days Across America tour.
"SeniorLink is the most fulfilling and worthwhile of my endeavors thus far in life, " said Trivedi. "I have been able to achieve so much for myself, the seniors and the entire community of Lower Bucks County by founding SeniorLink. I encourage any and all middle and high school youth to start local SeniorLink chapters. New SeniorLink leaders will receive assistance from our central team to lead services in their own community, and to show everyone that they are leaders of a new generation. It is also a great way to meet fellow youth leaders from around the country through our networking events."
It is the organization's vision that after more youth apply and launch their programs, a national network of teens dedicated to these same ideals of community and collaboration will emerge, and through the collaborative nature of this volunteerism, everyone will be able to be much more successful in accomplishing their goals.
"Fundamentally, SeniorLink is about connecting to other people in our community. So, although we have done that in the past with technology, we want to encourage teens to join us, and create their chapter based on their interests. But whether it is singing, playing, or teaching our elders how to use computers, we hope that the chapters will develop personal ties with others in the community," says Aushim Kokroo, Vice President of SeniorLink.
More information and chapter starter kits are available at www.SeniorLinkOnline.org
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