By Brittney Coulter
The Baylor Agape Connection, a student organization beginning its first full semester this fall, has tapped into a previously underrepresented area of interest on campus— building friendships with senior citizens.
According to the organization’s website, its mission is to “provide companionship to the elderly through the cultivation of relationships, while simultaneously affording students the opportunity to build character and values by fostering friendship and informed perspective.”
It’s important to build relationships with seniors because. “they make up a large sector of our population that will continue to grow as the Baby Boomers age. We really feel like it’s important for college students and aspiring professionals to understand how to relate with the elderly, as they will become a large percentage of people that we work with,” said Oklahoma City senior, co-founder and secretary Katie Miller.
Miller said students who want to get involved must fill out an application as well as an interest sheet in order to match the students with residents of the Regent Care Center of Woodway, the nursing home Baylor Agape Connection is partnering with.
“We’ve been very fortunate to work with this nursing home, as they have an incredible activity director,” Miller said. “The residents are very able-bodied and interactive and really enjoy getting to be with us just as much as we enjoy being with them.”
Fifteen hours of volunteer service are required per semester.
Members can plan their own hours in order to meet this requirement. Baylor Agape Connection’s monthly events may be used to gain volunteer hours.
The Baylor Agape Connection website says that members of the organization “seek to exemplify selfless love and compassion.” These tenets were the inspiration behind the name of the organization.
“To me agape is, in a sense, a Christ-like love,” said Scobey, Mont., senior Logan Chabot. “It’s giving to those whom you would not expect something in return. It just kind of struck me as an all-encompassing word to describe what we’re doing for the elderly population.”
Chabot co-founded the organization with Miller last semester.
Chabot said a lot of the inspiration for starting the organization came from a lecture given last fall by Dr. James Marcum, director of the Medical Humanities program, about the lack of compassion in medicine.
“It really struck me and engaged my thinking over Christmas break about reintegrating compassion within health care,” he said.
Chabot said some of the advantages of serving in this organization are the interpersonal skills that can be developed as well as the “life knowledge” students can learn from senior citizens that they might not get from textbooks. Plus, the organization offers activities students might enjoy.
“One thing we’re hoping to do is a senior citizen ‘senior prom’ where we have corsages and boutonnieres and different things for them,” she said.
The next event on the organization’s calendar is a pizza party this Sunday.
“[It’s] just our way to kick off the year with the residents and introduce new members to them,” Miller said.
Chabot has high hopes for the future of Baylor Agape Connection and the positive effect it could have on the Baylor community as well as senior citizens in the area.
“In the next couple of years I hope that Baylor Agape Connection will inspire kids to branch out and help get the elderly taken care of and more concerned about because they are a population that needs attention that may not otherwise receive it,” he said.
Baylor Agape Connection holds meetings every other Thursday in room E231 in the Baylor Sciences Building. The next meeting will be Sept. 22.
Students who are interested should email Katie_Miller3@baylor.edu for applications to join.