Intergenerational Index
The Grandfriends Project -- A Program Creating Friendships Across the Generations Martin Kimeldorf, the author

Sample Student Report

John Brantley attended a bi-weekly class where we completed assignments from the student workbook. Every other week he visited a nursing-convalescent center with the class. John was able to develop a new relationship with an older couple and write about his experiences in the following report.

John's report appears in Chapter 12 of the GRANDFRIEND PROJECT workbook. In his report, he summarizes his experiences in working with older people. John followed the report-outline in Chapter 12. This outline provided him with ideas for reflection, tips for gathering information, and guides for sequencing his thoughts.


  --- A Report ---  
John Brantley

River Ridge High School
Lacey, WA.

What I hope to demonstrate in this report is the knowledge I have received over the past six months by volunteering my time at Mother Joseph's Care Center as a member of the Granfriends Project. I decided to join the Granfriends Project not just to get out of fifth and sixth period, but to broaden my views on elderly people, and not be so prejudiced about something I don't understand such as ageism.


I feel this project was important to the residents at Mother Joseph's Care Center because the residents got to broaden their views on teenagers in the 90s. There are a lot of things on the news about how teenagers are involved in gangs and violent crimes. Hopefully after the project our granfriends will no not be prejudiced against us as teens.

I feel this was especially important because I am from River Ridge High School which is a new school struggling to make a difference for their students and the community. I am proud of the fact that the administrators allow activities like these to go on in our school.

The word granfriends means meeting new people and making new friends. Not just any friends, elderly friends, which makes them a "Grand Friend." And that is exactly what the term granfriends means to me.

While visiting Mother Joseph's Care Center many times I noticed how clean the facilities were kept and how nicely the residents were treated. I feel the staff member's mission is to make Mother Joseph's Care Center one of the best retirement homes available for the elderly. I think they accomplished this goal because the residents I talked to felt very secure with the health care they received. When talking with the residents about the services they enjoyed, the one I probably heard the most about was the food. They all seem to enjoy the specially prepared meals.

There are several different levels of care at Mother Joseph's and they try to cater to each individual resident's needs. If a person is very ill, they place the individual in a separate room so that no other resident will come in contact with the illness. This is important because most elderly people's immune systems are not as strong as a young person like myself.

Leisure activities provided for the residents include church services on Sunday for several different religions, a bowling tournament, and a recreation room where people may watch a movie or listen to music. They also have a physical therapy room where they can exercise so that their injury heals properly.

As a volunteer at Mother Joseph's Care Center in Lacey, Washington I received several hours of rigorous training in the health and welfare of the residents. Our class learned the proper techniques of moving a person in a wheelchair. We were told not to bring them food, not even water, because of the special diets. Foods from outside could contain additives and things that a resident might not be able to break down. Some may even have allergies to certain ingredients. We also were told to wash our hands vigorously before we came to visit with residents to prevent the spread of germs that could be harmful to their health. We were also told to wash our hands before we left in case we touched any bodily fluids such as a resident's saliva or blood.

In addition, we received instruction in the proper way to deal with unexpected behaviors. Sometimes a person might get upset and have a bit of temper tantrum. We were instructed just to leave them alone or find someone to assist us such as a nurse or health care provider. We were also urged to report any abuse a resident might receive from a staff member, volunteer, or anyone else.

To better understand the aging process our group was involved in various training activities. We took time out to do a simulation of the aging process. One of the activities was to find your name in the phone book while looking through a prescription pair of eye glasses to see what it's like to have poor vision. Another was to walk around the school with a rock in your shoe to simulate the difficulty and pain of walking with limited ability. Another task was to eat something sweet like candy and something salty like potato chips with your nose plugged to simulate what it's like when your sense of taste grows weak.

Unlike the other students, I had two people to work with. Lena and Leonard L. were my granfriends. They were both very nice and caring, elderly couple. In visiting with them I found that Lena enjoys talking very much and Leonard is quite the opposite, as he would rather not talk at all, but just sit there and relax. Lena shared many interesting stories about the past and her kids and how proud she is of them, and how she can't wait to return home. This was sad since I knew she probably wasn't going back home. But, at any rate, she enjoyed the thought of being independent once again. I think that Lena and Leonard were a lot like my grandparents in the way they enjoyed spending time with me and knowing about my life as if I was their grandchild. What I will probably remember most about this couple is the way their faces lit up as they noticed me walking in the room on our every-other Wednesday visits.


After doing this project my views on older citizens in our community has changed. I used to think that senior citizens were just old people sitting around waiting to die---like their lives were over---but I was wrong. I learned that seniors are still very active in the community and still very aware of their surroundings and what is going on in their lives.

I have learned several valuable lessons from doing this project. I would have to say that the most valuable lesson I learned was that elderly individuals are still people and should not be discriminated against because of their age. Something I learned about myself after doing this project is that I am a sensitive and caring person with a broad outlook on life.

I feel that the Granfriends Project was a valuable experience for the entire group and myself. I feel this project was very helpful to me because I got to learn more about what it will be like for me as I get older. I can honestly say I am a changed man.

I think this is a project many other students would get involved with if they only knew the benefits of spending time with elderly people. If I were to describe this project to a friend I would tell him or her about the rewards that await people who get involved with their community! Just the mere fact that I was chosen to work with these special individuals makes me also feel like somebody special.


Brochure. Mother Joseph's Care Center. Winter. 1996. Lacey, Washington.

Volunteer training sessions at Mother Joseph's Care Center. Winter. 1996.

Kimeldorf. Granfriends Project booklet. Various hand-outs about aging. 1996.

Lena and Leonard L. Personal interviews. 1996.

"Aging around the world." SIRS, CD-ROM. Spring 1996. Knowledge Source Publishers.

Intergenerational Index   next page arrow

Martin Kimeldorf,
© 1999
All Rights Reserved.
Amby Duncan-Carr,
page designer
Material from both THE GRANDFRIENDS PROJECT, A Program Creating Friendships Across The Generations and the companion piece, PROJECT LEADER'S GUIDE FOR THE GRANDFRIENDS PROJECT, A Program Creating Friendships Across The Generations is reproduced here with the permission of the publisher, Fairview Press. Printing or downloading a single copy of this document for personal use is permitted; teachers may reproduce this document for use in a single classroom, only. Transmission in any form or further duplication is prohibited without the express written consent of the author. In addition, any use of the document code, itself, requires the written permission of the web page designer.

Kimeldorf Bibliography
Amby's Resources
Kimeldorf Autobiography

© 1999   Amby Duncan-Carr   All Rights Reserved.

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