Like every year, the elderly wait all year to savor summer, and even more this year after the lock down period. While this summer was unlike any other, the organization Little Brothers – Friends of the elderly in Chicago knew it was still essential for the elders to feel friendship and fun. That’s how they came up with a brand new program called a “Slice of Summer”.
“Little Brothers did not give up on bringing the spirit of summer–safely–to our elders,” says CEO Simone Mitchell-Peterson. “Even in a pandemic, we work in order to create new ways to meet our elders where they are.”
Slice of Summer, a six-week program which began in July, brings this season’s favorites to the elders through festive deliveries. Upon meeting the elders outside, volunteers spray bubbles into the air and play classic songs of summer on their phones, often spurring impromptu dance parties in front yards and on sidewalks! “I get to be a kid again!” exclaimed elder Connie, as she watched bubbles overhead.
The Slice of Summer team, including a member of the Elder Advisory Committee, started meeting by phone in May to plan this unique celebratory experience that would also promote engagement, involvement, and a sense of community. Elders have been delighted to see a friend and receive boredom-busting activity packets and colored pencils along with other summer treats, like cold slices of fresh watermelon and cherry pie.
“We’re so proud to be creating such joyful experiences for the elders. We’ve heard from many seniors that their deliveries have come at the perfect time to lift spirits. Slice of Summer’s impact is like a friend reminding you they love you and are thinking about you,” says Ann Wohlberg, Director of Program.
The Monday following their delivery, elders were also invited to join a group call, led by a volunteer, to share favorite summer memories and connect with new friends. “Our volunteers have been excited to pilot with us and join in to bring these memorable experiences to our elders,” says Josh Chartier, Director of Volunteer Services & Community Engagement.
Photos Credit: LBFE Chicago