Buddy Program Connects the Generations
Too old for after-school programs. Too young to get a job. What to do? One good option is the Buddy Program at St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care.
The program brings together youth ages 11 to 15 with clients from St. Ann Center and Milwaukee-area senior centers, teaching youth how to interact with older adults and people with physical and developmental disabilities.
“It builds mutual understanding and respect between the generations, and results in some wonderful friendships,” said David Kenny, St. Ann Center director of the program.
Lily Wohlt, 14, has participated in the program during summer and the school year. “We play games with the adults, pass out lunch trays, do karaoke and chat with the clients,” she said.
Nevaeh Hern said being a Buddy is an amazing experience. “The older clients share stories of what life was like when they were our age,” she said. “And they enjoy hearing what we have to say about the world.”
Buddy Reece Decorah, 14, likes feeling that he’s making a positive difference. “I’m really energetic, which helps the people I work with want to get up and start doing things,” he said. “I think someday I’d like a career helping people.”
The program includes a stipend for service, and teaches the youth other valuable skills, like a strong work ethic and budgeting. “We’re also encouraging their commitment to do good things for others and give back to the community,” Kenny said.
Applications are being taken for the fall Buddy Program at stanncenter.org/children/buddy