‘It creates a great structure’

Retirees partner with school Interact Club members

CHRISTINE HARKINSON/The Sun: The partnership between Caring Neighbors in Acts-ion at Moorestown’s retirement community The Evergreens and the high school’s Interact Club helps bridge generations. “We’re starting something new here,” said Chaplain Anthony Maimone.

The resident-led group Caring Neighbors in Acts-ion of Moorestown’s retirement community The Evergreens and the high school’s Interact Club made sandwiches for the Cathedral Kitchen on Jan. 10.

“We’re starting something new here, where we’re sort of bridging our relationship between the high school students and our elderly residents,” said Chaplain Anthony Maimone. “Our elderly are very inquisitive about young people’s lives and they’re still wanting to find purpose, so this is just a wonderful opportunity to share their experiences … and the youth just love it as well.”

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Caring Neighbors in Acts-ion helps the community in many ways, whether it’s participating in food drives or clothing drives, putting together bags for nonprofit Project Night Night or preparing bags for nonprofit Ronald McDonald House Charities.

“We’ve realized that we have a lot of socially-conscious residents who feel like, ‘I’m elderly, but I still want to be able to participate in the community wherever there’s needs,’” Maimone noted. 

“ … We just, hopefully, are building one-on-one relationships, not just a group setting.”

Maimone believes that high-school students feel at ease speaking with residents of The Evergreens.

“The young generation, they struggle with competition,” he pointed out.  “They’re competing with each other, they’re competing with society, and so they feel less threatened with older folks, particularly ones that they don’t know about.”

“ … I think it creates a great structure where the young really trust the wisdom of the elderly, and the elderly are just missing those connections.”

Junior Ashley Kim, a member of the Interact Club’s student board, shared how the club first met with Caring Neighbors in Acts-ion last year, and she was excited for both groups to meet again.

“I think it was interesting to see their perspective on things, and especially since we grew up so close to our phones and it was something that came later on in their lives, I think it was definitely interesting to see how they view certain world issues or how they receive information versus how we receive information,” she said.

Kim looks forward to partnering with Caring Neighbors in Acts-ion again, and has a message for the Moorestown community.

“I think it’s more than surface level, just the connection,” she said. “I think it’s more in depth, like really speaking with the residents, not just quickly making sandwiches and leaving.”

Resident Dolores Ingles bonded with students over their plans post-high school, and enjoyed hearing about their passions and interests.

“I’d advise them not to expect success with their first year of college or last year in high school, and to fail is not a disgrace,” she said of what she would tell them for the future. 

“In fact, it encourages you to try harder,” Ingles added. “And just take it easy, do your part and study hard, and if you don’t get an A-plus, get a B-plus and work harder.”

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