Who We Are
Since 2006, Southern Adventist University has had the unique opportunity to manage a one-of-a-kind grant that creates a local, service-oriented student labor program for academies and a scholarship program for elementary students that pairs participating students with elderly adults in their community.
Students participating in the grant-funded program perform light housecleaning and/or yard work, visit, read, play games, and assist with planned facility events, along with many other responsibilities. These activities benefit the older adults with daily living and quality of life while also providing students an excellent opportunity to appreciate the value of service, foster positive mutual relationships with the elderly, and help with financing their Christian education.
This program allows participating students and their families to continue their commitment to a Seventh-day Adventist education. The academy work and elementary scholarship grant can defray as much as one quarter of a child’s tuition. Based on the approved grants for the 2015-2016 academic year, over 1,900 families committed to Seventh-day Adventist Christian education will be impacted by as much as $2.4 million in tuition assistance with 151 qualified schools as recipients of the grant. And, through a practiced attitude of service on the part of the students, as many as 2,700 senior citizens are served currently through this grant.
It is important to talk about the dollars awarded to students in the program or the number of elderly served—the number of meals cooked or loads of laundry or even the hours spent in playing games or reading. However, we hope you would experience the genuine relationship building between a senior citizen thirsting for companionship and a young student full of energy to fill that cup.
Our Mission and Values
The mission of the Assist and PFE Programs is to promote mutually beneficial, service-oriented intergenerational relationships by providing tuition-earning grants to partner institutions.
Service and Volunteerism
The program seeks to find service opportunities and instill volunteerism throughout the lifespan.
Fosters relationships with the institutional partners committed to the mission, values, and goals of the program.
Importance of Relationships
Promotes the development of long-term mutually beneficial relationships between senior mentors (older adults) and young people.
- Schools are accountable to the students and their families by ensuring a nurturing environment for the program.
- Students are accountable to the school by following program guidelines.
- Schools are accountable to uphold the standards of the program.
Designed to create positive impacts for the students, their families, the senior mentors, the school, and the surrounding community.
Meets human needs by creating and fostering intergenerational relationships.
For students and their families: the program provides opportunities to build personal relationships with people in need while defraying the cost of Christian education.
For senior mentors: the program offers the ability to connect with a student and the opportunity to share life experiences and provide educational direction.
For schools: the program can help schools to retain students and/or recruit new students who would not be able to afford the tuition.
Best Practice Orientation
We conduct regular assessments of the program to ensure that we are implementing best practices.
We communicate with schools throughout the school year and ask for feedback from the program participants.
What We Do
What People Are Saying
"Talk about a real eye opener! Participating in this program these last three years has really shown me exactly how blessed I am and it’s shown me that you can have fun just about anywhere, even in places many people would think not possible."
Grant administrator at Mt. Pisgah Academy
"One of our Assist students is from out of state. Her mom was unable to make the trip to our school for a recent mother/daughter event, but she thought of someone to go in her place. The student had repeatedly talked with great fondness about one of the retired ladies she worked with. It was obviously a relationship that had heavily influenced the girl. The retiree was able to attend the brunch and everybody had a great time!"
Nursing home administrator
"We have one resident in particular who has no family to visit except a cousin who visits only once every few weeks. He had an Assist student with him after school last year, and again this year. Having an afternoon companion made a world of difference to him and it benefited the student as well. I have personally seen a growing maturity in the students that have worked with him. They have learned to be more patient and to deal with elders who have physical deficits. Their exuberance is refreshing, and they have learned to show it appropriately. Their presence here is very much appreciated."
Mothers of students
"As a mother I feel very happy that my son has been working in the Assist program. This program helps him value more the things in life including his own youth. He has a lot of good memories from working with them. What most impresses me is that when he came home for the summer he would tell me he missed them a lot. He worried that he did not know how they were doing and he called them “my old people” (it sounds even more sweet in Spanish). I give thanks for this work/ministry that gives these young people the opportunity to have this great experience, and to learn from these people."
"This nursing home program has had such a positive impact on my daughter. She has become a person who views the world in a different way and strives to help others who are in need. My daughter now also plans to become a physical therapist for the elderly after working in this program. It has made me a proud mother to see such a caring and now goal-oriented daughter. I recommend the nursing home program for anyone, especially teenagers. It gives them another perspective of the world and can change their life as well as the people they are helping."
Student from Mount Pisgah Academy
"I am a 15-year-old girl in the 10th grade. Assist has made me a better person because it has brought beautiful people into my life. They have molded me into a respectful, grateful, and more appreciative person. I wish everyone could have this opportunity to meet people that help mold and shape them this way."
Grant administrator at Madison Academy
"Most people at this age (the elderly adults) find their world narrowing. It often feels like they have been devalued. This experience broadens their world and adds energy and purpose to their lives. It gives them someone else to think about and brightens their world. One resident went on and on about how she was teaching her student about life so he could live it better. He had responded by telling her she was one of the wisest people he knew. She has now become an educator to all of the other senior adults about how they can be a coach for these young people!"
Student supervisor at Sunnydale Academy
"Every day the students go visiting, no one ever wants them to leave! The kids have made a real impact at our local nursing home. One of the elderly gentlemen is giving Aaron (a student) fiddle lessons and he seems so happy to be helping Aaron learn something new."
Adult child of an elderly couple
"The students helping Mom and Dad have been wonderful! This program is providing assistance for my folks at a very difficult time in their lives. It enables Mom and Dad to remain independent at a time when their abilities are more limited, and the students help fill the gap."
Student from Collegedale Academy
"I really enjoy getting to know all the residents and spending time with them! I especially like to get advice and hear what to watch out for in life. I enjoy hearing stories from their lives and how they overcame obstacles. I have even considered going into some sort of job that deals with the elderly in the future because of their impact on my life. I love having 30 grandparents!"
Principal of Mount Pisgah Academy
"For the past several years I have been able to see the lives of our students change as they interact and assist those who are disabled or elderly. I speak with deep appreciation because students have been able to assist with my dad for the past few years as he has struggled with neuropathy and Parkinson’s disease. First, the students were able to visit and assist him at his residence and now they continue to serve and visit with him at a local nursing home. He looks forward to the times when his student comes to meet with him. May God continue to bless and grow this program."