Monday, November 22, 2010

Sweaters for Seniors

In one metro Atlanta county, there’s a socially minded school responsible for educating the next generation. Also, in that same county (Fulton) is Senior Citizen Services of Metro Atlanta that cares for the needs of seniors.

Representatives from both organizations met for the first time in a hallway at the Galloway School on behalf of “Sweaters For Seniors.”

It was a really happy day, but not just for the warm sunlight that beamed through the school’s big windows. Or because of the melange of yellow and red trees just outside those windows as you overlooked Chastain Park. What made this morning special was like-minded people in various careers assembling on behalf of a common cause – to help keep Atlanta’s seniors warm this coming winter.

In attendance were Missy Hirsh, Assistant to the College Counselor for Galloway, Lexi Fields, Galloway Economics Teacher and Service Fair Director, Steven Hargrove, Director of Special Events for SCS and myself, Sharna Fulton, Director of Marketing of Sweaters for Seniors and AHCS.

So why were three different organizations involved in the collection of 174 pounds of sweaters you may ask? (Missy Hirsh weighed the many green bags of beautiful sweaters made with heavy wool, cashmere, fleece and dry cleaned just for Sweaters for Seniors.)

The answer is that we at AHCS, sought for the first time this year, to make “Sweaters For Seniors” truly a community endeavor. Why?

#1: Schools were the best resource for collecting sweaters for seniors the past 2 years. We realized it was students were the most enthusiastic and truly what made the program special.

#2: We thought it would be a good way to connect Atlanta’s youth to Atlanta’s seniors. (After all, young or old, we are all one!)

#3: We wanted to put the spotlight on the senior service agencies and what they do for Atlanta’s elder population. We felt that by connecting schools with their same county senior agencies, we could make school communities aware of the seniors’ needs in their own neighborhood. What’s more, with blog and Facebook posts like these, we could further illuminate the existence of and what agencies like Senior Citizen Services of Metro Atlanta does to help seniors.

In conclusion, I’m really pleased with the outcome of this partnership for 2010. Galloway’s Missy Hirsh puts it best. “I want our students to learn about thinking outside of their own box. Sometimes, there’s a stigma attached to not having ‘things.’ By collecting sweaters for seniors, our students were able to know there are people with needs and that it’s okay to understand that and to help them.

Thanks to the outstanding organizational skills of Steven Hargrove and his staff the sweaters will have value too! When I approached Hargrove last summer as to whether SCS could find use for “sweater donations,” he responded “yes.” Within a few days, he had the perfect idea for the sweaters — to deliver them to SCS’s 300 clients along with their Thanksgiving Meals On Wheels.

As we button-up collections for Fulton County’s seniors this year, we look forward to more schools joining us in the “4th Annual Sweaters for Seniors” coming next fall!
-- by Sharna Fulton, Alternative Home Care for Seniors