This semester, I am taking a class called Leadership Jumpstart, which aims to instill strong leadership skills in first-year Schreyer scholars. A large component of the coursework involves the creation and execution of a service project. To complete the service project assignment, the class of 24 students divides itself into 4 groups of 6. My group, composed of 6 fantastic girls, came together back in August, and although we didn’t know it at the time, we were going to establish something truly remarkable.
Most groups settled on a project in August and followed it through to completion. My group, however, created three failed projects before finally landing on our final one, The Memory Initiative. While the process of switching projects so many times was definitely frustrating and nerve wracking, it definitely brought me and my teammates closer together, and our final project is something that we are all truly passionate and excited about.
The Memory Initiative’s mission is to empower older women and remind them that they play a crucial role in society. This broad mission encompasses three more concentrated goals: companionship, recognition, and empowerment. We have partnered with State College’s Elmcroft assisted living center, and we have matched ourselves up with mentors (various women in the home).
Oftentimes, these women lack communication with their families and are not outgoing enough to participate in the group activities that are primarily utilized in group living homes. Thus, they can find themselves feeling rather lonely. To create this companionship and foster long-term relationships, we use the mentor program so that each partnership can focus on one-on-one engagement.
Far too frequently, women of the older generation fail to realize their own worth. The problem is not that these women haven’t accomplished anything in their lives, but they fail to see the value of their accomplishments. In order to propel these women to recognize the value and worth in their successes, we will create scrapbooks with them that outline their life’s achievements.
Many women of this generation grew up in a time period when women were especially overshadowed by men. The Memory Initiative strives to help them realize the strides that women have made in society. The goal is that they will be able to channel these modern feminism examples into their own lives and realize that their lives matter just as much as anyone else’s, regardless of their age and gender.
Since we have begun to embark on weekly trips to Elmcroft, we have received real-life affirmation that the problems that The Memory Initiative aims to mend are very pertinent. In fact, when we first met the women and introduced the mentorship concept, a woman named Darlene asked “What could I possibly teach you?” Her question demonstrates the lack of recognition that she has for her own value and makes The Memory Initiative even more important to my group members and I.
In order to expand the influence of The Memory Initiative and optimize the mission’s efficiency, my service project group has decided to turn our project into an official Penn State organization. By expanding into a club, not only will many more students be able to get involved, but many more women of the older generation will receive companionship, recognition, and empowerment.
–November 15th, 2017