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Local Weber State students reach out to the community in an effort to do good

Apr 14, 2023 09:08AM ● By Olivia Rees

Armed with only the instructions to “do good” for weighty group project, a handful of Weber State students were brought together in an upper division communications class, Small Group Facilitation and Leadership. Calling themselves the DoGooders&KO which incorporated their initials and motto of the semester, Katie Hales, Devin Bringard, Gunnar Jardine, and Olivia Rees wanted to do something to make a difference in individuals lives while somehow spreading it to impact the local community. Tinkering with the idea of a special needs talent show, a music concert, or helping a local charity, they decided to serve who they viewed as an often-forgotten sector of the community: the senior citizens. The group shared, “We wanted to help the elderly feel recognized and heard, by helping them share their story more easily with others in a way that will always be remembered.”

To accomplish this project, the DoGooders&KO recorded and interviewed folks at Treeo, a senior citizen center in Ogden. Gathering the stories and information from the elderly, they then transcribed the recordings into a little book to be distributed to each person interviewed. “We want to do this so the elderly will have some of their life stories in a book that can be easily shared with their family. It seems like a worthwhile project because while the many of the elderly love talking to people and sharing their stories, but they may not know how to share that in a way accessible to their posterity,” commented DoGooders&KO. “In a way, we like to think we are paying it forward for the community by helping people understand and get to know their past.”

For many of the group members, while stressful because of scheduling and assignments based around the project, it became more than a grade. Hales surmised, “I left each interview feeling so happy, and I wasn’t worried or stressed about other things going on in my life. It was just a good feeling to go talk and listen to the stories of these people!”

The lessons that Jardine retained were to, “do what makes you happy. Don’t do what others want you to do. You are in control of your life.” This experience also helped him want to write down important events that happen in his life because as you get older, you tend to forget things. Regardless of the age gap, Jardine’s favorite part of the interview process was being able to connect with the interviewees by realizing they had some same acquaintances and common interests. “A story/life lesson from one of the residents that impacted me the most was don’t take life for granted,” continued Jardine. “Don’t let life get in the way of having a good time, but the most fun you can have is with your family so keep them close.” 

Hales shared, “One of the coolest things that happened during the project was hearing the people we interviewed talk about how special they think this project is! The lady we worked with (Karen) also expressed to us how this has created a buzz and an excitement around the center. She said that this meant a lot to the people that we interviewed, and she was super grateful for us coming in to listen to these people’s stories.”

The DoGoodersKO encourage everyone to get to know their grandparents and other senior citizens around them. Some of the questions to start you on your journey of getting to know them include: What is your family like? What did your parents do for a living? What did you do for a living? What were some of your favorite hobbies as a teenager? What accomplishments are you most proud of? What is one of your happiest memories? What is a piece of advice you would like to offer to your younger self?  What things make you the happiest now? How would you like to be remembered?

“The importance of remembering others was reiterated in my mind,” shared Rees, a local Morgan resident. “People want to know they are cared about and what better way to serve that spend quality time actually taking time to listen to them. Elderly or young, everyone deserves that kind of undivided attention.”

Describing it as an “intergenerational effort trying to find a way to connect people together and help the elderly feel heard,” the DoGooders&KO hopes that this article will inspire others to implement the experience and reach out to those around them. λ

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