The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

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The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

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Student interest in intergenerational connection

Parkshore Senior Campus employs Park youth
Ena Mekic
Parkshore is a senior retirement community in St. Louis Park, May 25. Students from the high school work in various positions at the senior campus.

In high school, it is common for students to find employment opportunities that will suit them and allow them the finances to meet the expenses of teenage life; many see employment as an investment in finances for college or life beyond high school, as well. Nevertheless, there is a need for students to feel fulfilled by meaningful experiences in the jobs they have.

For most, it is important to seek human interaction and purposefulness in employment. Many students want their employment to be seen as a reflection of the professionalism applicable to a career of their choosing. In consideration of this, Park’s students have sought positions at Parkshore Senior Campus, a community of residents in assisted living and memory care.

According to Resident Care Coordinator Malorie Lorentz, though there are scheduling conflicts with high school students, she seeks to employ them because their willingness to interact with residents and progress in their knowledge of resident-centered care is impactful. She said their presence allows for intergenerational connection.

“There are challenges with employing students, such as ensuring the hours have available work for them, (but) students’ work ethic (draws me to employing them). They are willing to learn and grow,” said Lorentz. “I admire the amount of effort students put into their work and the level of compassion they have for the residents. (Through their interactions), students and residents are able to learn about each other’s stories and how generations have changed.”

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Freshman Abby Carlson, a dining server at Parkshore, said being employed in geriatrics has allowed her to understand the importance of the elderly people in her life and reflect on their lives in relation to hers.

“Working at Parkshore has impacted me as a person by opening my eyes to new perspectives. I’ve gained so much knowledge and experience just from being there for four months,” said Carlson. “Being around the residents has given me insight on other people’s lives that I would have never thought about if I didn’t work there.”

Freshman dining server Lola Grimm has similar sentiments, as according to her, the interactions she has had have made an impression on her.

“I like working with (the elderly) because I think it is nice to be around them. (Being employed at Parkshore) has been good. It has really put things into perspective in consideration of life,” said Grimm. “(Residents) are near the end of their lives, and I have realized that there is so much life left for me to live.”

Lorentz said high school students should seek intergenerational connections through being employed in geriatrics because they make a difference in the lives of the residents.

“By seeing the conversations they have with the residents, I have seen the impact of high school students in their positions,” said Lorentz. “(I see them) sharing stories and can see the residents smile when interacting with the students.”

According to Carlson, speaking with residents is what she most enjoys throughout a shift; having conversations with them allows her to feel as though she is a part of their lives and they are a part of hers.

“One of my favorite things about interacting with (residents) is having small conversations while I am taking their orders or cleaning up their tables. The small things — asking how their days are and learning about their lives — is something that always makes my shift better,” said Carlson. “Getting to know (the residents) has made working at Parkshore more enjoyable because I feel way more comfortable.”

Grimm said employment at Parkshore has impacted her consideration of her future. According to her, interacting with residents had allowed her to see the promise of pursuing a professional career in geriatrics.

“I think working at Parkshore has made an impression on me (in consideration of having a career in geriatrics). I would consider working with the elderly later in my life,” said Grimm. “I have learned what it means to just be with and appreciate people, and that will stick with me throughout my life and the career I choose.”

According to Lorentz, in consideration of the positions available to high school students at Parkshore, students’ willingness to be employed in geriatrics allows their residents meaningful and lighthearted interactions with the community’s youth, providing students with a professional environment, as well.

“In my opinion, (students’ involvement in geriatrics) keeps the residents young. The energy high school students bring to the facility just rubs off on the resident,” said Lorentz. “I feel (working in geriatrics) is a great opportunity for students to learn more about health care. Also, the residents love chatting and getting to know the younger generations.”

In reflecting on her position at Parkshore and her life beyond it, Carlson said her experiences with residents are valuable to her personal life. According to her, being employed in geriatrics as a high school student is rewarding and, therefore, should be considered by her peers at Park.

“One of the biggest things that translates to high school from working in geriatrics is patience. Helping and interacting with the residents can sometimes be overwhelming, but learning how to handle that has not only made me a better employee but also a better student,” said Carlson. “I would definitely recommend working in geriatrics because of the experiences you have and the many people you get to help. Working in geriatrics has its ups and downs, but knowing that I’ve truly helped someone or made someone’s day is a really special feeling that you can’t always have with any job.”

This story was originally published on The Echo on May 29, 2024.