Partnership with Simmons University benefits multiple generations
Simmons University School of Nursing students, Christina and Sarah, volunteer weekly at the Brookline Senior Center. These second-year students are two of twenty-three participating in a “Nutrition and Health Promotion service- learning seminar” this semester. Service-learning combines community service with academic instruction. The students’ volunteer work at the Springwell-operated senior community dining program in Brookline includes assisting in the kitchen, setting the tables, serving the meals, helping with clean up and perhaps most importantly, conversing with the lunch guests.
Kristine, the Brookline Dining Site Manager, welcomes each student, trains them and answers their questions. “They are a huge help with everything. The lunch guests love the energy of the younger generation.” One guest told Kristine that she just loved watching the students as they work. Kristine believes the students bring a light heartedness to the seniors and perhaps even remind some lunch guests of memories of their younger days when they were more active. “The students are so kind to each lunch guest. They chat with the seniors as they arrive and interact with them during lunch as they serve soup, coffee and tea and check to see if they need anything.”
Simmons professor, Louis Kaplan, an experienced nurse and teacher says that nutrition and health promotion is an important part of a nurse’s role. He emphasizes that interacting with the seniors provides each student valuable individual engagement experience that will help them throughout their career. Sarah and Christina appreciate everything they have learned. “As students, we are typically around our peers most of the time. We love gaining another generation’s perspective by hearing the seniors’ stories.” “It is nice to see the guests enjoy eating with their friends,” shares Sarah. Christina echoes Sarah’s sentiments and adds that “being here has also increased my knowledge about other programs to support seniors as they age.”
The work in the community is a vital component of the overall learning for these nursing students. Springwell appreciates the support and caring these students provide the senior lunch guests each week.