December 8, 2023

Students at California Baptist University have teamed up with Magnolia Grand, an independent living facility for seniors, by “adopting” some of the residents as their own “grandparents.”

Mary Stenger, the activities director for Magnolia Grand, across the street from CBU, said once a month students meet with a resident.

“(Students) bring cookies, cards; some just come and talk and read to them,” Stenger said. “(It’s) just a very nice social environment for them. I have them coming over all the time to play bingo.”

Alyssa Ares, junior communication disorders major, said she loves the bond it has created.

“The best part about adopting a grandparent is being able to create a relationship and spend quality time with them,” she said.

The relationships formed through the program can be impactful for “grandparents” and students alike. Stenger said some of her residents do not have family that visit.

“One is totally blind, but a student comes and reads to her constantly,” Stenger said.

Ares said she was really close to her grandparents, who passed away a couple of years ago, and spending time with her adopted “grandparent” has been impactful.

“(I) absolutely loved the quality time I got to spend with them,” she said. “Being able to have a relationship with my ‘grandparent’ has been such a blessing. I don’t think he realizes how much of an impact he has had on my life.”

Annabelle Lim, freshman marketing major, said it gives her the opportunity to build a relationship with a grandparent figure at the center, as she said she did not have that experience growing up.

“I never had a great relationship with my grandparents and knew that God might be able to use me, or one of them, to do something awesome,” she said. “I imagine they might get lonely, so I wanted to help bring a little joy into their lives as much as I could.”

Stenger said she is extremely grateful for the partnership with CBU students.

“I’ve been here 11 years and we’ve really just utilized them with the grandparent (program) for the past two years,” she said.

Stenger also mentioned more students are welcome to join and can get in contact with Lisa Cross in Compassion Ministries at CBU if they would like to sign up for next year.

“Many of them have mentioned that their families, children and grandkids all live far away and no longer visit,” Lim said.

She also said it helps build up the reputation of the students who participate.

“It’s nice for them to be around us younger folk and feel loved on, cared for, included, needed, special and loved,” she said. “It has helped build a good reputation for CBU students and shown the older generation that our generation does care.”

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