Students Share Coffee and Compassion with Older, Wiser Residents at Covenant Home

CHICAGO, IL (March 2, 2007) - Every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., a group of North Park students gathers on the steps of Old Main to trek down Foster Avenue to Covenant Home for Coffee Hour. Eight to twelve "regulars" turn out to spend time with the students, tell stories, and share the wisdom only life experience like theirs can bring.

Junior Mollie Nye, program coordinator for the Disability & Elderly subgroup within the University's Urban Outreach program, says, "It's fantastic to get to know the residents; to hear their stories and to learn more about their lives." She mentions several residents who come every week, including a Japanese-American woman who lived in an internment camp in San Francisco during World War II, a Polish immigrant named Rosie who came to the U.S. at age nine, and Lilian, a Swede who converses in her native tongue with many of the North Park students studying Swedish in their classes.

Another volunteer, Ruth Howell, says that the time spent with the residents is "a little bit like having another grandparent just down the street. They like to make sure we eat enough and that we're doing well in school." Ruth enjoys the fact that she can minister by just being there. "They love hearing about our lives and it's wonderful to get an older person's perspective on life." Ruth's favorite residents include Dolores, a mischievous advice-giver whose mantras include "Don't be good – be careful" and "Keep a man at every port," and a pair of sisters who serenade the students with songs about the ice man and other symbols of "the good ol’ days."

The students also visit Covenant Home once a month for a Saturday special event. They've done everything from scrapbooking to a Christmas party that featured baked goods courtesy of a floor of women in Anderson Hall, entertainment courtesy of senior Alana Hall, and craft time devoted to homemade ornaments which then adorned a tabletop Christmas tree at the Home for the remainder of the season.

In addition to the Covenant Home group, Urban Outreach's Disability & Elderly program also includes a group of students who visit Friedman's Place, a Jewish organization serving the visually impaired about two miles northeast of campus.

For more information on University Ministries' Urban Outreach programs, click here.