Inspired by the needs of their distant house-bound grandparent and a great- aunt living in a nursing home, three siblings in Paonia have started a new volunteer program. It's called "Student To Senior Connection."
Eliya, Ariana and Kai Sorensen and their mother and adult sponsor Cindie Sorensen began this outreach in March. "Even though we cannot help our families far away, we can help seniors in our own community," the two sisters and brother said. Student volunteers are matched according to interests and hobbies with a senior at Creek Vista.
Eliya, 16, is working with a seamstress. The senior is teaching Eliya sewing technics.
A former art professor at Colorado University in Boulder is teaching the students about art.
Kai, 10, helps a senior with gardening.
A student named Wyatt, who is nine years old, plays card games with a Creek Vista senior.
A Paonia High School senior who plans to enter the military after graduation has been matched with a senior citizen with a military background.
Ariana, 13, plays Scrabble with a senior.
Right now, Student To Senior Connection has six to 12 students who volunteer. They would love to match more seniors with student volunteers. Currently they have volunteers from Paonia High School, Paonia Junior High School and the North Fork Vision Home and Community School.
The volunteer students will also help service organizations. For example, just this past weekend, they helped put out Easter eggs for the Kiwanis Club at the Delta County Fairgrounds.
The program builds relationships between the senior citizens and students, matching their interests.
With more volunteers, the program will be able to match two students with one senior or one student and their parent with a senior.
Older student volunteers will be available for special work days to help the seniors with cleaning tasks.
Both seniors and students fill out surveys to help in matching interests. "We are hoping the seniors will share interesting facts about their lives and teach the students about their hobbies and interests. The students in return will have the opportunity to share their energy and spontaneity and learn from the seniors," the Sorensen kids said.
Student To Senior Connection has as its goal to "provide companionship, a helping hand and an open heart."