At Michigan State University, there is a student organization looking to create meaningful intergenerational connections between assisted living residents and students.
Called Perfect Pair, the organization has 60 student volunteers and has partnered with five assisted living homes. In total, the group has matched 10 pairs.
“Student volunteers and senior participants are paired based on similar hobbies and interests,” said Diya Venkatesh, fundraising chair with Perfect Pair. “Through shared laughs, conversation, and fun activities, our members will have the opportunity to foster meaningful and long-lasting relationships with their Perfect Pair.”
The organization originally started at the University of Michigan and now has chapters at MSU, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Drexel University, with plans to grow at other universities.
“What surprised me most about this organization is how quickly our pairs develop relationships,” Venkatesh, an advertising management senior, said. “We match our pairs based on common interests and it is amazing to see how quickly these relationships grow to become friendships.
“It never feels like you are volunteering, it feels like you are taking time to meet with a friend.”
Venkatesh points to the strain the pandemic has put on relationships, and how Perfect Pair has helped.
“I met a woman at this [assisted living facility] who began telling me about her life and how different her life has been at this home because of the impact COVID-19 had,” she said. “She was unable to see family and her dogs, who she missed terribly. She told me how incredible she thought our organization was because she would be able to build a relationship with someone even through the pandemic and she was one of the first [individuals] to sign up for a pair that day.
“I can happily say we matched her with an amazing volunteer, and they have started building their connection.”
For students interested in joining the organization, they can follow the group on Instagram at @perfectpairmsu. There is a sign-up link in the bio.
By Jennifer Trenkamp