GrandPALS prepares to become Luther organization
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A student-run organization called GrandPALs is working towards becoming an official Luther organization. GrandPALs connects students with nursing home residents in the Decorah area similar to PALS.
Students in the organization will be paired with a single resident and meet with them at the nursing home for an hour on alternating weeks.
The group was originally conceived by Alex Carpenter (‘18) and co-founded by Emily Osborne (‘18) and Emily Green (‘18). The idea came in part from the success of PALs which is a Luther organization that pairs students with local youth. Many students on campus want to foster more of these kinds of relationships and the next step is to provide more options with a different generation.
“GrandPALs is sort of a spin-off of PALS,” Osborne said. “We’re trying to connect Luther students with elderly residents in the nursing homes and assisted living facilities in town.”
GrandPALs is in the process to becoming a fully recognized student organization. The founders have already created a constitution and are completeing other required paperwork. They are currently waiting for approval from Student Senate.
Each of the co-founders had spent time working in nursing homes which inspired them to create this organization.
“We all worked in nursing homes or assisted living homes over the summers,” Osborne said. “Those kinds of relationships are really important to us and we wanted a way for ourselves to pursue that while we’re at Luther and for other students to have the same opportunity.”
The idea to form the group originally came from Carpenter and his inspiration came from similar work he did in high school.
“I was in a group that was very similar to this, that was called Bridging the Gap,” Carpenter said.
According to Osborne, a concern and reality of living on a college campus is the limited interaction most students have with a diversity of age groups. GrandPALs hopes to facilitate and provide these interactions.
“We’re inspired by the idea of intergenerational relationships,” Osborne said. “Especially when students are stuck on campus all day with people our own age it’s hard to make those connections.”
Learning about someone and having a greater appreciation for their values is a main focus of the club. According to Green, gaps in values can be large between different generations.
“[We hope] to gain a better understanding of what their life was like and what our life is like now so there isn’t as much of a divide between values and faiths,” Green said.
According to Carpenter, Luther students could develop new skills as a practical component of the new organization.
“Students at Luther would be able to develop leadership skills, and they could benefit from the volunteer hours,” Carpenter said.
The group has not sent any large survey to the general student body but has still managed to find a large number of students who are interested.
“We started sending around an interest form to our friends and so far we have around twenty people that are really interested, but we’re not sure how big it will get,” Osborne said.
The group expects to be fully approved by spring semester at the latest. They hope to have gained more students who are interested in participating by them as well.