Rose joined at Washington Park Cares’ inception in 2008, when the organization was just a few neighbors with a vision to help seniors remain in their homes. Through the years, she has gotten weekly rides to her hair appointments and grocery store, which is a big social outing for her. Although she received rides, Rose did not participate in any of the social activities that were organized by the group. With new leadership and a new name, in 2012, A Little Help created a new program- Service Saturday!. This service event occurs every spring and fall when we have teams of volunteers help our older adults with their household and yard chores, pitching in for jobs like washing windows, raking leaves, relocating furniture, dusting high fans, changing light bulbs, and weeding gardens. As we initiated the event, Rose was cautious about letting so many “strangers” work on her chores. The first Service Saturday!, she would only allow our volunteers to help with her raking. After she interacted with the volunteers at her home, comprised of three adults, a teenager, and two six year olds, she warmed up and gave us a long list for the spring tasks.
After this initial success engaging Rose in our intergenerational programming, we reached out with a new program called Scouts and Sages, during which we have seniors connect with a local Brownie troop through stories, games, crafts, and dessert! As an organization, we began reaching out to our members more frequently with check-in calls and invitations on the phone- and much to our happy surprise, Rose was finally interested in coming to one of our events. It turns out that Rose had helped start and lead the Brownie troop at Steele Elementary for her daughter 70 years ago! Rose came to Scouts and Sages meeting and had a great time talking with the Daisies and Brownies. They interviewed her about growing up in Denver and she captivated the girls by telling them that the houses were new when she grew up and that she had to shovel coal in the winter! The girls were shrieking with excitement at the thought of this story of Denver history. Because she enjoyed herself so much at Scouts and Sages, Rose has started coming to more of our events, including our summer picnics. At the first picnic she attended, the youngest attendee was 3 and Rose was the eldest at 95, with every generation represented in between. Before her participation, it seemed that the longer she has lived, the more isolated she has become, as she outlives her small pension and her social circle. Without ALH, her only outlets would be Meals on Wheels volunteers and folks at her church. But now we’re filling in her social reach by connecting with her pastor and neighbors, we’re allowing her to be and to feel like a valued elder in her neighborhood.