Winter 2019 Newsletter – Editorial



Union Settlement’s multi-generational services are one of the key hallmarks of our model of helping families here in East Harlem. Our programs span the entire cycle of life, from early childhood education, to youth services, to adult education, to senior services.

But our work is not just multi-generational; it is cross-generational as well. We do more than simply offer separate services to local residents of different ages – we work hard to bring those groups together, in ways that enhance the lives of everyone involved.

Our 2019 Spring Benefit is appropriately themed “Celebrating Generations,” and this newsletter highlights this important aspect of our programming. In particular, you will read about our Intergenerational Tutoring Program, which matches older adults with elementary school children who are struggling to read.

The educational results are remarkable, but so are the bonds that this program creates. The individuals being connected are not family members, teachers or friends, but simply two members of a community at very different stages in life, spending meaningful time working together towards a common goal. And the sense of pride and accomplishment felt by both the children and the senior volunteers is just as impactful as the educational gains.

We see these cross-generational connections throughout our programs — young professionals volunteering at a birthday party at one of our senior centers; corporate employees conducting résumé reviews and mock interviews with the 17- to 24-year-old-participants in our Career Academy program; and people of all ages helping deliver meals to homebound East Harlem seniors through our Meals on Wheels program. In each case, the volunteers take time from their busy days to enrich the lives of complete strangers in an entirely different age group, and they come away finding themselves even more enriched from the experience.

We did not invent this cross-generational approach, but we have been utilizing it for almost 125 years. And it works. Think of your own family, and how involved grandparents and parents and aunts and uncles and children are in each other’s lives, and how everyone benefits as a result. This same ingredient is what makes our Union Settlement family so close and so successful, and it is why we are so thankful that all of you are part of this extended family.

— David Nocenti, Executive Director of Union Settlement