Forty-five Years Ago at Park Avenue
Grandparents - Twice a Week
Tuesdays and Thursdays are important days for some of the residents at Park Ridge Nursing Home - and for the students at Warren Harding Elementary School.
Those are the days when nursing home residents volunteer to visit the school and spend a portion of the mroning working and playing with the youngsters there. The proram, referred to as the "Foster Grandparents" program, was initiated by Mr. Pete Denigris, a teacher at Warren Harding. His objective as to give the students an opportunity to interact and develop relationships with elderly people.
The benefit to Park Ridge residents has been at least as valuable - perhaps more. At first there was some reluctance and hesitation, but after the first visit or two there were more volunteers than the program could accommodate.
The residents are picked up at Park Ridge and taken to the school each Tuesday and Thursday morning where they spend about an hour and a half working with the students in small groups. Sometimes they read to the youngsters. Other days they might help correct papers or just talk with the students - and listen to them.
Both the school and Park Ridge are enthusiastic about the program. It fulfills the objective Mr. Denigris sought; it provides a service to the school and it is a signifianct benefit to residents of the nursing home to be able to provide a very valuable contribution in the community.
Certainly the program is unique in this community and perhaps in the nation. It is not uncommon for individuals and groups in a community to visit nursing homes and volunteer services there. For residents of a nursing home, however to reach out into the community and provide meaningful services, is uncommon.
The program with Harding School reflects rather well the dominant philosophy of the entire Park Ridge health complex: that it's primary mission is service to the community; the kinds and amounts of service that the community needs. (From Park Avenue Prism, Winter 1973 - 1974)
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