The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Students help seniors reclaim golden years

The once cherished golden years is suddenly dull. How has the new generation forgotten

what used to be the most anticipated years of life?

Your friends have new members of their family to meet and are busy carrying out their

lives; your own family is starting to pick things up again, including new hobbies and events.

When everyone else is moving forward you don’t want to be the factor slowing it down.

So you rest and wait for those special visits from your loved ones, if you have those that visit,

even if it’s once a month.

Once a month is hard for someone who feels cut off from the always changing world.

Many assume that when you grow old and go off to a nursing home, time moves just as fast

in them as it does to you.

This isn’t the case. Many of those who are sent to a nursing home lose touch with the

connection of the world and are often left behind as the years pass.

For the program run by St. John’s alumnus Christopher Schneider, this is exactly the

issue he is trying to fix at Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens. As program manager,

Schneider has been working for 10 years on the program called the “Friendly Visiting

Program.”

The main goal of the program is to provide social companionship and social relationships

to the senior citizens in Queens and Brooklyn.

The Friendly Visiting Program is funded by City Meals on Wheels and sponsored by the

Catholic Charities of the Brooklyn diocese. There are three branches of the charity’s

foundation. Schneider has personally worked with over 400 seniors and over 400 volunteers.

As a former student at St. John’s, Schneider touched on the fact that he loved how

involved St. John’s students are nowadays with their volunteer work and reaching out to the

local and greater communities.

“A thank you is to be given to the St. John’s students for all of the time they have spent

volunteering over the years,” Schneider said. “They are a great asset to the community at

large.”

Schneider joined the program after teaching at a high school where he also coached

basketball and tennis.

He said at a younger age he had a family so he never had the time to involve himself

with charities, but after retiring from teaching he was looking for a part-time job and the

opportunity presented itself.

After working for the charity program for 10 years it soon became a passion for him.

This program is a way to get in touch with the ever-changing world around them.

The senior citizens tend to live alone, no longer being in the company of their family or

children to visit. These situations create a sense of isolation in those who need it least.

What is needed most and is given, thanks to the Friendly Visiting Program, is volunteers

to come over to talk to them and try to bring a sense of companionship.

What the Friendly Visiting Program is most in need of is volunteers to donate their time to

accompany the senior citizens and look to establish a connection to society through the

relationships that the students and elderly build together.

“By the end of their hours, [the students] end up thanking me before I get a word out to

them about coming. They truly love working at the center and the seniors love their visits.”

Schneider’s passion for assisting the elderly is palpable.

“It was just something that I immersed myself in,” Schneider said. “Senior citizens are a

vulnerable part of society and these volunteers fill a void in their life and help them feel

connected and safe.”

For him, this service is not just about assisting a senior citizen in need of some

companionship, but it is also a chance for these elderly citizens to reclaim their golden years.

“Anytime you can help vulnerable members of society, I think you have done right,”

Schneider said.

For more information please call Chris Schneider: 516-641-7541

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