connect / 2021
Multigenerational Program Volunteer Corps
ChaiVillageLA will expand our volunteer-driven multigenerational program successes by hiring a volunteer coordinator and developing a robust Multigenerational Program Volunteer Corps (MPVC). The volunteer coordinator will increase our capacity to engage active older adults in multigenerational volunteering with civic, cultural arts, educational and social justice community organizations. The volunteer coordinator will oversee volunteer training, engagement outreach, recognition, leadership development and evaluation components.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- San Fernando Valley
- South LA
- South Bay
What is the problem that you are seeking to address?
We are addressing social isolation and loneliness among active older adults, exacerbated by older adults’ limited interaction with people of other generations and a lack of sense of purpose. Data indicates that volunteering later in life is associated with health benefits (https://direct.mit.edu/daed/article/144/2/55/27054/Productivity-amp-Engagement-in-an-Aging-America) and an increased sense of purpose (https://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/Abstract/2016/02000/Purpose_in_Life_and_Its_Relationship_to_All_Cause.2.aspx). Research shows that intergenerational connection is also an important strategy for overcoming isolation. When generations come together, there are positive outcomes on physical & mental health. Multigenerational volunteer programs combat social isolation and loneliness by giving participants a sense of belonging in their communities. (https://www.gu.org/resources/fact-sheet-intergenerational-programs-benefit-everyone/).
Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.
This year we successfully launched 6 multigenerational programs that involved 50 older adults, a comparable number of younger participants and 6 different organizational partners. We were able to demonstrate positive impact while offering virtual programs in accordance with LA County Public Health guidelines. We intend to expand our capacity to engage more volunteers and partners for our multigenerational programs. To achieve this, we plan to hire a full-time volunteer coordinator who will support ChaiVillageLA’s existing volunteer Multigenerational Project Team to develop volunteer training, engagement outreach, recognition programs, leadership development and evaluation. With the guidance of a volunteer coordinator we will be able to engage more members in multigenerational programming, thereby reducing social isolation and loneliness and increasing participants’ sense of purpose.
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
If all organizations in Los Angeles County included older adults on their boards and staffs, and in their volunteer pools, Los Angeles County would be enriched by the vast accumulation of talent and experience. We would no longer be wasting human capital. We would have a stronger sense of community across age groups. Health would improve and social isolation and loneliness would decrease among older adults and younger people. This vision is supported by the findings of the Purposeful Aging Los Angeles (PALA) survey, which recommends expanding older adult volunteer opportunities, resources and intergenerational social interactions (https://www.purposefulagingla.com/). Program’s Vision of Success: 100 older adults and 100 “youngers” participate in our programs and report reduced social isolation and loneliness and increased sense of purpose. Volunteers increase their level of responsibility over time, resulting in ongoing volunteer leadership succession.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
ChaiVillageLA launched 6 multigenerational programs this year. Each program joined members of the Village and a cohort of “youngers,” including teen boys doing community service for vandalism, UCLA Freshman Aging students, young professionals in a theatre arts fellowship, and young adults from a writing group. We selected evaluation tools based on each program’s goals from Generation United’s Intergenerational Evaluation Toolkit. Early findings from programs as short as 10 hours showed that positive relationships formed. “Youngers” were amazed at their commonality with the “olders,” and felt validated by the “olders’” investment in them. Both older and younger participants gained the confidence to reach out to more people and connect, which was especially encouraging during a pandemic when isolation has been so high. One “older” stated that she “was happy to learn that they [older adults] could be useful to teens and that the kids appreciated the time they spent with them.”
Which of the connect metrics will you impact?
- Social and emotional support