Cross-generational housing mentorships close community gaps in ND
Tuesday, November 28, 2023
As the weather turns colder, two groups of people in one North Dakota city that are generations apart appear to be in good shape to navigate housing issues that might surface this winter and beyond. It's the result of a mentorship initiative.
The Bringing Generations Together project in Grand Forks was funded by an AARP Community Challenge grant. Nearly 20 college students were paired with 10 older residents in an area near the University of North Dakota campus.
Shaylee Miller, project coordinator with Bringing Generations Together, said throughout the fall, the students helped with home and yard tasks while the older residents shared generational wisdom on life skills, including working with landlords.
"I really see this project as providing a space for these generations to connect in a way that they might not have had the chance to before," she explained.
And for the younger residents, Miller hopes they learned a greater sense of community they can bring with them to other towns and cities after graduation. Project leaders say as the initial phase winds down, they are getting positive feedback from participants. With some funding left over, they hope to revive the initiative in the spring.
As older adults juggle costs for things such as medication, Miller said having the students help with certain tasks can ease some of the financial pressure their mentors might be facing.
"So, having students come to your home for an hour to rake [leaves], that can be huge -- not having to pay for a service to do that," Miller added.
This project is tied to University Park Neighborhoods, a collaborative organization aimed at improving the quality of life in northern Grand Forks.
The Community Challenge grant officials used for the fall project was one of six initiatives AARP funded across North Dakota this year.
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