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Playing bingo during the FBLA Adopt-A-Grandparent program, high school junior Lali Marquez visits with nursing home residents. — The Holyoke Enterprise | Johnson Publications

Multigenerational relationships formed in Adopt-A-Grandparent program

    Bingo! FBLA members struck on a winning combination when they started this year’s community service project, Adopt-A-Grandparent. The program has bridged generations, creating opportunities for teenagers to get to know some of Holyoke’s more experienced community members.
    Working with Regent Park nursing home and Carriage House assisted living, Future Business Leaders of America Makenzie Martin, Lali Marquez and Jackie Valenzuela started the program Feb. 5, and it will continue through March.
    Members of the Holyoke High School FBLA chapter sign up to visit the nursing home Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-7 p.m. Sometimes they play games like bingo. Other days are dedicated to singing or art. If an in-house activity is already planned during that time, FBLA members help out. At the chili cook-off last week, for example, the high schoolers helped serve and clean up, while also visiting with everyone there.
    Of course, an activity planned for any given day is seen as secondary, the three organizers explained. The important thing is simply spending time with the residents, chatting and getting to know one another. Some don’t get many other visitors, Valenzuela said, and those are some of the relationships that are especially meaningful.
    “When we leave, we can tell we’ve made their night better,” she said. “It’s been fun seeing them light up,” Martin added.
    One challenge, Martin, Marquez and Valenzuela admitted is scheduling other FBLA members for the program. There are busy schedules to contend with, but without fail, members end up laughing and having a good time when they do find time to sign up. One advantage of having highly active volunteers is that they have plenty to offer. FBLA members who also sing in select choir, for example, performed a song for their adopted grandparents during one of their visits.

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