Who Benefits More when Rutgers Interns, Volunteers Engage with Elders?

By Fern Marder

Students from Rutgers University(Photo Credit: Pat Newman)
Every semester, Rutgers students from various programs are welcomed to Parker, often as volunteers or interns. You may think that only the elders benefit from interacting with the students--however, the students also benefit from their interactions with Parker elders, and sometimes in life-changing ways. 

Rutgers University and Parker Health Group have a long-standing relationship with each other, which most likely began with our proximity to their campus. One of the requirements of majoring in Public Health at Rutgers is to volunteer at an organization that provides services to the public, which makes Parker a perfect fit for those Rutgers students. Parker President & CEO Roberto Muñiz is also an instructor at Rutgers' Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and Healthcare Administration, and an advocate for volunteerism and internships at our locations. 

One of his students, pictured above, far right, is Charis Chukuka. She and her Rutgers classmates Dajah Thomas, Rachel Glazar, Samantha Orefice and Zainab Moosavi recently spent the afternoon at Parker at Stonegate, under the direction leaders in various departments such as recreation and nursing. They had a blast getting to know residents and staff alike. 

Volunteers toured our Pavilion, the building next door to Stonegate, which is the location of Parker Adult Day Center, Parker Rehabilitative Services, and Parker Health & Wellness Center. While touring the Adult Day Center, the group of volunteers met Madison Surian (pictured above, far left), a Rutgers intern majoring in Psychology with a minor in Health & Society. Madison told the volunteers about her experiences as an intern at the Adult Day Center's social club, which will end next month.

"It's so interesting to see all the planning and work, behind the scenes, that goes into the adult day program each day," Madison remarked. "The program is so beneficial for the participants; I've learned so much during my internship, both from Parker employees and the elders themselves," she added.

Madison is planning to become a Parker volunteer after her internship, to continue interacting with the program's participants who have made as much an impact on her life as she has on their lives. 

So, who benefits more? Elders or volunteers / interns? It's evident that everyone benefits from the relationship! 

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