Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers of Greater New Haven

This week we welcome guest blogger Kate Walton, MA, Executive Director of the Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers of Greater New Haven.  You can reach Kate directly at kwalton@carenewhaven.org

 Albertus is proud to support the work of IVCG.  You can help by participating in the Cook and Care Walk-a-Thon, hosted by Albertus Magnus College on October 20, 2013.  Learn more at Cook and Care Walk-a-Thon or visit their Facebook page here

Back in 1984 an extraordinary handful of local New Haven folks from a bunch of different churches, temples, synagogues and mosques got together and responded to an extraordinary opportunity.  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation had put forth national funding to encourage interfaith dialogue between congregations for the purpose of creating volunteer services for the elderly.  Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers of Greater New Haven was selected for funding in the first national round, and now some 30 years later, this small organization continues its vital mission.

Who knew just how many little old ladies and gentlemen were out there living well into their 90’s and even some 100’s in their own home sweet homes?  “Aging at Home” is now a “model” these days but when I became director of IVCG just over a year ago I knew that IVCG had pioneered the model a long time ago.  Back in the early 1990’s,  I found myself in the sandwich generation when Parkinson’s Disease  ravaged my amazing mother and I heard there was a program of friendly visiting and neighborly assistance.  One phone call resulted in a wonderful lady materializing that proved to become a dear friend to my mother and a loyal companion for the remaining years of her life.  Much later on, when offered the position to lead Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers after many years as a human service non-profit administrator; I knew that this was an opportunity to both give back for the help given to my own family, and to work for a very worthy endeavor.  Only now do I fully comprehend how prescient and essential was the thinking of IVCG’s founders.

According to the 2014 Action Plan of the CT Commission on Aging, during the next 15 years the 65+ population in Connecticut will increase by an astounding 64%.   The population 21 to 65 years of age will decline by 2%.   Clearly, Connecticut needs to be expanding creative and responsive programming that provides strategic support that enables elders to continue living independently in their own homes for way longer than they would be able to – without strategic assistance.   Friendships, reassurance and the sharing of intellectual, artistic and cultural interests make life profoundly more meaningful for the homebound elder – and the volunteers who give of themselves.  Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers of Greater New Haven provides about 500 hours of free service each month transporting to medical appointments, taking elders food shopping and visiting them in their homes.

Interfaith Volunteer Care Givers of Greater New Haven is supported by the Agency on Aging of South Central Connecticut and our partnering congregations, donors, and hardworking dedicated volunteers.   We also partner with other local non-profit service organizations to provide Thanksgiving meals to over 800 local homebound seniors on Thanksgiving Day, and to raise funds through the Cook and Care Walkathon  – hosted this year for the first time at Albertus Magnus College.

NEXT WEEK – Learn more about the Cook and Care Collaboration.

“An education that …is practical in its application”

As part of the ePortfolio classes Albertus Magnus College students have an opportunity to write about the mission statement of the college and how this statement impacts their lives now as college students and in the future.  Student Matthew Mezzei from Wallingford, CT, a member of the Class of 2016, shared his thoughts on the mission statement promise to “…provides men and women with an education that … is practical in its application.”

The Albertus mission statement is something I found interesting when applying for schools last year.  One of the things that stuck out was that it says the school “…provides men and women with an education that … is practical in its application”.  For students today it is essential to go to college.  The purpose of going to college is to gain experience which will lead to future employment.  Therefore learning what you will need to know for a particular career is very important.  By teaching students essentials, Albertus graduates will have a degree that is more than a piece of paper.  They will be prepared for the career they have chosen.

As an Albertus Magnus student I have seen the importance the college places on relevant work experiences.  I have already begun teacher observations for the Education Program this semester.  I am able to see how a class operates and learn teaching methods from experienced faculty.  These opportunities will enable me to graduate with a degree that “…is practical in its application”.

Albertus Magnus College also encourages student and teacher interactions.  I keep in contact with the majority of my teachers.  It is important for me to maintain these positive relations as I move toward my degree.  The close-knit community of Albertus encourages me to be a …”responsible, productive citizen and lifelong learner”.

I would respond to a prospective student positively about Albertus.  I would not mention the mission statement specifically, but I would bring up the fact that the school emphasizes its close-knit community and it is something that is not found at many colleges.  Every teacher knows you by name and most students are familiar with nearly everyone.  It is a great feeling when you are known by your teacher and not seen as just another student.  I would make note of the diverse student body and friendly environment of the campus.  In addition I would also mention how the college already placed me in a relevant work setting to what I will be doing after I graduate, and I am only a freshmen.  Overall, Albertus is unique in a good way and prospective students should look at the college as a possible choice for their future.

To read more about Albertus’ Dominican Heritage click here.

Open your minds, Open your hearts… the Priceless Side of Higher Education for Adults

The Format

Everyone is familiar with the traditional learning format of universities and colleges but an for an adult returning to school there are so many different options. Adults have families, full-time jobs and many other responsibilities. These responsibilities make it hard to attend classes in the traditional format. Adults may find an accelerated format with classes at night, or blended in an online format much easier to attain a degree in their desired major.

Not only do these other formats for learning make it more convenient for working adults to get their degree. It also helps expand personal ideas for life outside of the workplace and classroom.

Expanding Ideas

If you saw our previous post about building confidence in college, you know that attending a higher education institution has much more meaning than a degree. In addition to building confidence in college, an adult student also can learn critical thinking and brainstorming techniques they can take into the workplace or share with their community.

By taking courses in the cohort model, adult students are able to expand their professional and personal network. Many students were able to further their careers outside of the classroom thanks to the connections they made with their peers in the cohorts.

Opening your Heart

Attending college with other adults with similar situations and responsibilities, understanding the hard times some people have gone through and being able to relate to hard times in the past can change life after graduation. Many students become much more involved in their communities. They volunteer their time to help those less fortunate. They share their experiences from the classroom and in life to inspire the people around them.

These are the priceless benefits from higher education and much of it has to do with the students working together to achieve their personal and professional goals. As an institution we are proud to be able to offer such an atmosphere and even more proud of each and every alum to achieve their goals and inspire their neighborhood.

Transcript:

This is an experience that I always wanted in my life but I didn’t have the resources, or I didn’t have the confidence, or I didn’t have the support to undertake this kind of journey. Now that I found a way to do it I want to move on to the Masters program and I also want to do so much more in my community; volunteering, working, in my family, as far as getting more people and friends to grow the way that I have over the last four years. I just want to go to the highest heights that I can as an individual.

Its becoming better and better. That’s how you know that this is a college invested in it’s students. Some colleges decline and disappear but this college as been around for a long time and its only getting better. That is something that is priceless.