Doing Good: Nonprofit brings together generations through art

Every Wednesday, at A.G. Rhodes Health and Rehab, Meagan Jain holds an art class that brings together seniors and young adults for an afternoon of conversation, art and creating an overall human connection.

Jain always had a passion for taking care of the elderly. While in undergraduate school at Georgia State University, Jain started visiting the senior home.

“It really changed my life,” she said. “It became about hanging out, giving each other company and creating a place for sharing stories.”

She began the Adopt-a-Grandparent program in college which allowed her peers to interact with the elderly at A.G. Rhodes. Inspired to continue her work, Jain, now 25, launched Ageless Interaction to provide environments for people to connect with each other on an authentic, human level.

The nonprofit designed programming which includes dinner parties, dances and visual arts classes that bring together young people with the elderly to bridge generation gaps and exchange stories.

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“There is so much wisdom in the older generation and I really wanted to create an authentic connection because they have so much to offer young adults,” said Jain, who considers herself a social gerontologist, or someone who studies aging in different cultures.

Since it started in 2014, the nonprofit has connected 1,200 people and worked with seven long-term care homes and schools.

“I am always seeking dedicated volunteers to bring joy and purpose and that is what Meagan did with Ageless Interaction,” said Melissa Scott-Walker, recreation therapist at A.G. Rhodes. “The impact Ageless Interaction had on our residents was immediate. Our residents not only enjoy painting in the weekly art class, they also became very close with the volunteers.”

Paul Burks’ mother Harriet, who suffers from dementia, was a former painter and AI’s art class rejuvenated her love for the art form. She participates in the art class every week.

“It’s the highlight of her week,” said Burks. “She is so much happier and we can see that it is because of these art sessions.”

Jain wants this connection to continue and hopes to expand Ageless Interaction into more schools and long-term care homes to bridge generation gaps and redefine aging. People can also volunteer with the organization in administrative tasks and young adults from high school, college or professionals can volunteer with art classes and other events.

“Aging is a beautiful process,” Jain added. “And I want everyone to take away that elders are an important part of our history and our community.”

In other news: Delta Community Credit Union presented a total of $7,000 in philanthropic grants to three non-profit organizations in Dekalb County. The organizations are Clarkston Community Center’s Student Success Program, Family Housing Program and Family Advocacy | Financial Literacy Program at Our House. Each of the organizations share Delta Community’s goal of supporting education, financial literacy and human services. They received three of 30 grants that will be awarded from the Delta Community 2015 Philanthropic Fund this year.

Who’s doing good? Each Tuesday, we write about charity events such as fun-runs, volunteer projects and other community gatherings that benefit a good cause. To suggest an event for us to cover, contact Devika Rao at doing.goodAJC@gmail.com

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