Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been”David Bowie
Sometimes, the person who made a mark on your life when you were younger is a grandparent, an auntie, an uncle, or an older mentor. For me, it was all of those. My grandmother Ethel was the first woman I loved, besides my mother. She granted me, “unconditional love”. My daughter has the same experience with her grandmother, Mrs. Winnie, my daughter could do no wrong. I can still hear Mammie Clesfield’s voice at the most unique times in my life. She was my hero. And my auntie, my lovely Auntie Faye who put all these ideas of social justice, change, and wisdom into my idea-box. If I am stuck on an idea, I think: what would Auntie suggest I do? So Mzee, the elder to youth program is our idea. It is a place where our elders tell the stories, give guidance, show unconditional love and support, and impart wisdom onto our younger generation. Mzee was born in 2014, and while it is still in formulation it is an elder program that will support young and older people.
- To “pass on” the stories of our culture, society and values through elders to youth
- To provide support for young people struggling with their life’s meaning (career direction), involvement in child welfare or criminal justice system, dealing with grief & loss, or experiencing trauma through a supportive elder relationship
- To provide guidance and mentoring to youth
- To reduce isolation and loneliness for elders
- Mentorship Programs: Connect an elder with 2 or 3 young people
- Volunteer Programs: Connect youth with volunteer programs in elder’s residence
- Archival Project: Connect youth to tell stories of elders using videography, photography and journalism.
- Cooking Program: Connect elders with youth groups to teach old recipes