Grandpals matches young adult Goodfellows with seasoned citizens

I wonder why more churches aren’t doing something like this? It does so much good for so many people.

First, it helps address the problem of loneliness among seasoned citizens. Second, it enables those folks to share their skills, talent and lifetime of experience to mentor younger generations who, many times, grow up without active parents or grandparents themselves. Third, it would connect members of a church to the community in a wonderful way.

I learned of this program, through an article in The Better India. It has no connection to a church as far as I can tell.

This program was started by three young adults from India who loved hanging out with their own grandparents. Today, they have a team of 65 young men and women between 18 and 24 who assist 400 Grandpals.

The spirited and empathetic youth members are called “‘the Goodfellows,” while the older people who receive assistance with tasks or companionship are referred to as “the Grandpals,” according to The Better India.

Seasoned citizens are nominated for the program by a family member or anyone else in the community. It appears many of the older folks live alone.

Once nominated, the seasoned citizen is interviewed to gauge their cognitive ability and, more importantly, to determine their interests in order to be matched with someone interested in the same things.

The Goodfellows meet with the Grandpals for a few hours every week. In addition to companionship, the young people also run errands for their Grandpal, when necessary. They may chat together, have lunch, watch a movie, go shopping, attend a play or just go for a walk. Goodfellows could also provide respite service for a full-time caretaker.

“The goal is not to simply fulfill the need for basic companionship but rather to make it a rich experience for both,” said Shantanu Naidu, one of the founders.

One young volunteer, who grew up without a grandfather herself, said she came to cherish the relationship she formed with her Grandpal. “He still introduces me as his granddaughter when we go out,” she explained.

With so many churches wondering how to inspire their young adult ministry, what a fabulous opportunity to enlist them into valuable community service!

The full story can be found at The Better India. Photo originally published in The Better India.