ElderServe is designed to establish a bridge of care between Ouachita students and older senior adults of the Arkadelphia community. Judy Duvall, ElderServe coordinator, sees a need for this connection. “The senior adults in our community need the energy and joy young people can share with them, and the young people need the insight and wisdom from the life experiences of this older generation. The relationships formed are mutually beneficial.”
ElderServe works closely with nursing homes, churches and local agencies to identify those senior adults who could benefit from a relationship with a student. The student is asked to commit to a friendship with a senior adult over the course of a college semester. They meet every week, mainly to just visit. The student will sometimes help with various tasks such as light cleaning, reading correspondence and even washing a dog. Each relationship is unique and is guided by the needs that become apparent as the friendship develops. In most cases, a genuine friendship is formed between the student and senior adult.
The team of ElderServe volunteers is composed of males and females who are from all disciplines of study on Ouachita’s campus. “A servant’s heart and a willingness to listen are all you need to be equipped to be a part of this program,” says Duvall. However, an ongoing instruction is offered throughout the year as well as meals together to form community among students.
The ElderServe team meets together monthly to share a meal and then carry out group projects in area nursing homes and senior adult housing complexes.