Monday, July 28, 2014

Grandparents Week Blog: Jack and Marion Hlava

Jack and Marion Hlava were married on June 18th 1949 in the central Wisconsin town of Mosinee. They had five children, and among them was my father. After leaving Mosinee, Grandma and Grandpa Hlava spent the rest of their lives in the small paper town of Green Bay, and their house sat on Ridge Road just a few short blocks away from the famed Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers.

When I was very young I remember the car rides to their house marked by the left turn just in front of the colossal football shrine. Often I was forced against my will to wear an itchy sweater in my best effort to be as photogenic as possible for the family photo. But I toughed through it, because going to grandma and grandpa’s house meant great food, hanging out with the family, but most importantly there was usually a Packer game involved.

Speaking of the Green Bay Packers, for anyone from the great state of Wisconsin (Green Bay in particular) watching the games were as commonplace as breathing. Being a fan is simply a part of everyday life there, and there were no bigger Packer fans that I knew of than my grandparents. If anything I remember of them, it was the look of sheer jubilation at every great win, and the heart retching agony of every loss. But we shared in it together as a family and it was a special bond that I’ll never forget. In 1996 the Packers went on to win the Super Bowl for the first time in my life, and I was there at Grandma and Grandpa’s house cheering them on with my family.

This year when I celebrate Grandparents Day, I’ll be thinking about those car rides past Lambeau Field to my grandparents’ house. I’ll remember those awful striped sweaters I used to wear during the holidays at their house, and the hearty meals we ate when the temperatures dipped below zero. I’ll remember the jubilation of every Packer victory and the agony of every loss when we all watched the games together. I’m proud to say that the time spent with my grandparents made me who I am today; I cherish the time with my family, am a lifelong Packer fan which I will be passed down to the next generation, and I still hate itchy sweaters.

Written By: Adam Hlava

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Family Care Center at Virginia Commonwealth University Health Systems - 2014 Program of Distinction Designee

In part 2 of our series on the 2014 Program of Distinction Designee, we highlight Family Care Center at Virginia Commonwealth University Health Systems in Richmond, VA. (Read part one.)

The Family Care Center – among this year’s honorees, including AARP Experience Corps and Geriatric Career Development Program at Jewish Home Lifecare – enjoy the bragging rights and national legitimacy that comes from joining an elite group of programs celebrated for their effectiveness.

(See our post, “What is a Program of Distinction Designeeand why is it so important?”)

"When it opened more than 30 years ago, ours was one of the very first employer sponsored on-site child care centers in Virginia. When we added our adult day services program in 2006, it was the first of its kind," explains Maria Curran, vice president, Department of Human Resources and Family Care. 

"We have long known about the many significant advantages of integrating the care of seniors and children and are thrilled to be recognized by Generations United as a Program of Distinction," Curran continued. "Our program is one of the flagship benefits we offer our employees but it also is open to our community, which extends the benefit even further."

Family Care Center, like our past designees, went through a tough consideration process facilitated by our panel of experts in the intergenerational field.

The VCU Health System Family Care Center is a shared intergenerational site located on the Medical Campus of Virginia Commonwealth University.  

“We are very excited about receiving 'The Program of Distinction Award' offered by Generations United," said Patricia Moon, director, VCU Health System Family Care Services.. "It is both an honor and a privilege to receive this recognition of our efforts to ensure best practices in the field of intergenerational programming and elder care when there are so many programs deserving of this distinction."  
"Our elders and our children have been the recipients of the improved quality of life initiatives that have come from their experiences," Moon concluded.  

The diversity of ages and opportunities within this center is a result of its NAEYC-accredited childcare center serving children ages 6 weeks to 12 years and an Adult Day Center licensed for 10 adults with varying abilities who need or desire opportunities for engagement, supervision and socialization. 

The opportunities for intergenerational interactions are significant and further expanded since the Family Care Center is part of a teaching hospital and supports students and interns from a variety of disciplines.

"I am thrilled to receive this honor from Generations United, and very proud of the exceptional care environment we have created at this shared site," observed Dee Caras, MSG, program manager, VCU Health Systems Adult Day Services. "This designation will help us continue and will strengthen our good work through increased recognition and awareness of our program."

Stay tuned for next week, when we introduce Jewish Home Lifecare’s Geriatric Career Development Program. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics

EDITOR'S NOTE: Each week, we'll feature intergenerational program ideas that were tried and successful. This new series is a tool to highlight various age-optimized programs and practices. The program descriptions are provided by representatives of the programs. Inclusion in this series does not imply Generations United's endorsement or recommendation, but rather encourages ideas to inspire other programs.

In part nine of our series, we feature the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, a nonpartisan political institution housed at the University of Kansas. (Read parts onetwothreefourfivesixseven and eight.)

Launched in July 22, 2003, the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics recently started an intergenerational mentoring program with members of the Friends of the Dole Institute and the Dole Institute’s Student Advisory Board.

The Friends of the Dole Institute is an annual giving program made up mostly of retirees in the Lawrence, Kansas community. Members of the Student Advisory Board are undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Kansas interested in public service and civic engagement.

The Dole Institute Mentoring Program was developed with three goals in mind:1.    
  1. To foster deeper connections between the Friends of the Dole Institute and our Student Advisory Board,  
  2. To provide a forum for individuals of all ages to practice civil discourse by facilitating meaningful discussions on topics related to Dole Institute programs, and
  3. To develop students’ skills, values, and a sense of empowerment, leadership, and citizenship.
Mentors and mentees were matched based on their interests and met at three facilitated meetings throughout the semester, as well as on their own.

The activity among mentors and mentees took off quickly after our first facilitated meeting. Mentors and mentees did everything together from attending Dole Institute programs, to touring art museums, and even attending sporting events!

Got something cool you tried that was successful? Why not tweet your cool intergenerational ideas to  #cooligideas? You can also post them to our  IntergenerationalConnections Facebook Group. Youth Jumpstart Grantees can share ideas here. Or just text us through the Facebook Messenger app (friend me to join our Cool Intergenerational Ideas group discussion). We want to highlight innovative age-optimized programs and practices through our blog, social media and weekly e-newsletter!  Share the inspiration.

AARP Experience Corps - 2014 Program of Distinction Designee

Lequetta Diggs, an AARP Experience Corps volunteer, working
with students at Maxfield Elementry school in St. Paul
to help develop their reading skills.
Photos courtesy of AARP Experience Corps.

In the four years Generations United, through our partnership with New York Life Foundation, presented the Programs of Distinction Award, we realized something: our applicants are adventurers at heart, whether they know it or not.  

While applying isn’t as dangerous as wingsuit gliding off a 13,000-foot mountain or kayaking over a waterfall, the consideration process is just as rigorous.

That’s why our successful applicants enjoy the bragging rights and national legitimacy that comes from joining an elite group of programs celebrated for their effectiveness. (See our post, “What is a Program of Distinction Designee and why is it so important?”)

This year’s honorees are AARP Experience Corps, Family Care Center at Virginia Commonwealth University and Geriatric Career Development Program at Jewish Home Lifecare.

This post is one of a three-part series, highlighting our 2014 designees. First up, is AARP Experience Corps.

What makes this an award-winning national program is how it engages people 50-plus years old to meet their community's greatest challenges.

Two thousand AARP Experience Corps volunteer members tutor and mentor in 19 cities across the country, providing literacy coaching, homework help, consistent role models and committed, caring attention.

Independent research shows that AARP Experience Corps boosts student academic performance, helps schools and youth-serving organizations become more successful, and enhances the well-being of adults 50 and older in the process.

They tap into the desire for 50-plus adults to be engaged in community, leveraging their capacity to create lasting change and making sure we conduct the research necessary to deliver the best results.

Their volunteer members tutor children who need basic literacy skills, they mentor students who count on them for guidance, they partner with classroom teachers to make schools better places to learn and they help create healthier communities. Learn more about AARP Experience Corp.

Stay tuned for next week, when we introduce Family Care Center at Virginia Commonwealth University Health Systems.  

Friday, July 11, 2014

Generations United Statement on the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act

Generations United applauds the bicameral, bipartisan agreement on the Preventing Sex Traffickingand Strengthening Families Act (H.R. 4980) for recognizing and supporting the needs of grandfamilies, families where children are being raised by grandparents or other relatives either inside or outside of the formal foster care system.

Specifically, children being raised in grandfamilies will benefit from the provisions which: 
  • extend kinship navigators and family finding through Family Connection Grants,
  • expand the adoption incentives program to include permanent guardianships and increase incentives for older youth,
  • promote “normalcy” for children in foster care including kinship foster care,
  • more fully engage youth in planning for their permanency,
  • require adoption assistance de-link savings to be reinvested in post-permanency services, and
  • preserve eligibility for kinship guardianship assistance payments with a successor guardian.
While we affirm these important steps to supporting grandfamilies, we elevate the need for further reforms and ladders to stability and permanency for children.   In particular we are committed to working with both parties to ensure the Family Connection Grants are extended beyond the current year. These grants support kinship navigator programs, one of the few sources of information and support for grandfamilies who are both keeping children with extended family and saving taxpayers more than $6.5 billion each year by keeping children out of foster care.

Generations United looks forward to supporting future efforts related to child welfare finance reform and ensuring the availability of additional prevention, post-permanency services and other supports for grandfamilies who step up to raise children when they cannot remain with their birth parents.

Thank you for your commitment to ensuring safe, stable and permanent homes for children and preserving their family and cultural ties whenever possible.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Meet Nick Partsch - Seniors4Kids Profile

Looking back on his time as the Daily Nebraskan's advertising manager, Nick Partsch's responsibilities went beyond discussing budgets and contracts with department heads or staff. It went beyond developing marketing plans and directing the paper's advertising and promotional campaigns.

In the 14 years he worked at the University of Nebraska’s student newspaper, the Lincoln, Nebraska-resident also recruited and trained young people on being successful in the advertising field. That's when he discovered something.

"Working with students enforced my belief that there's something amiss with society," said Partsch, who retired in 2012.

Of his observations at the Daily Nebraskan, he continued, "More students are coming to college lacking many life skills necessary to be the kind of person to advance rapidly in their chosen field."

So he took it upon himself then to provide those young folks the life skills necessary to succeed. Today, that same passion drives him as a grandparent who not only looks out for his 11 grandchildren but also advocates for future generations of Nebraskans.

Just looking at the stats, that future seems grim. Nearly 40 percent of Nebraska’s children, age 0-5, are considered at risk of failing in school and life, according to a study by First Five Nebraska, an early learning advocacy group.

That's what makes living in Nebraska, as Partsch puts it, "more of a challenge than a resort area."

But knowing that high quality early childhood experiences and environments decrease crime and improve community safety, Partsch is ready for his generation to step up and hold elected officials' feet to the fire when it comes to early childhood education.

But that's easier said than done. "One of the biggest problems of people my age is that we think this doesn't affect us anymore," Partsch said.

The questions he often hears are: Why should I vote for school bond issues since I don't have kids in school? Why should I support early childhood learning when all my grandkids in this area aren't in school?

But Partsch sees the connection. He knows a child’s earliest environments and experiences will help shape who they are as adults. He believes that providing quality early childhood experiences leads to quality adult citizenship.  It stands to reason that quality adult citizenship leads to a brighter future for Nebraska’s way of life.  That’s why, despite most of his grandchildren living outside of Nebraska, he stayed invested in the young people at the Daily Nebraskan.

His suggestion for bridging the gap between young and old includes more communication between them to understand  how interdependent they are. "We have a lot of wisdom to share," Partsch said. Of the future, he added, “Those kids are going to take care of us some day, one way or another."

Name: Nick Partsch
Occupation: Retired, now working at Partsch Farms.
Home: Lincoln, Nebraska
Grandchildren: Bo , 17; Charli, 15; Chloe, 12; Ella, 12; Luke, 11; Jesse, 7; Isaac, 6; Oliver, 5; Owen, 5; Emmet, 2; Willa, 2; and one due in late July or early August.
Legacy I want to leave to my grandchildren and other children in Nebraska: It's important to make sure that there's societal pressure on parents to raise their kids a little better and make good decisions.