CSEL teams up with local senior housing community

Edmonds College’s Service Learning program has partnered with Shepherd’s Garden,

a local low-income housing community for seniors 62 or older. 

According to Christine Thomas, the administrator at Shepherd’s Garden, the housing community currently has 48 residents.

“[COVID-19] affected our social interactions with the residents. We usually have bingo and other kinds of social events at least weekly, and we’ve had to cancel all that” said Thomas.

According to Steward Sinning, the program manager for the Center of Student Engagement, the partnership was originally requested from the Edmonds College President Dr. Singh. He set up the initial meeting with himself, Sinning and Thomas.

“From there, Dr. Singh left it up to Christine and myself to see what we could do to come up with a project,” said Sinning. “We only had the one entry this quarter, but given all that’s happened, it’s definitely a challenge to have the same level of student engagement, especially when you’re trying to form a new partnership with a community partner.” 

According to Sinning, the one student’s project consisted of reading some classic stories that related to past and present mythology. After reading the stories, the student planned to upload weekly videos to Youtube about the stories. 

The Shepherd’s Garden service learning project is a great opportunity for students to get involved with a local community in a creative way. Students can tailor their project based on their own interests or studies. In this case, the participating student was fulfilling service learning for her anthropology class. 

“The sharing of history and cultural myths with today’s children and seniors relates to her class of study in cultural anthropology and linguistics” said Sinning.

The topic of the project and length of the service learning hours is very dependent on the student’s reasoning for doing this project, and the type of project they are doing. 

According to Sinning, projects can be as simple as streaming a song or game over a webcam for the seniors at Shepherd’s Garden. However, he wants the project to generate some valuable outcomes, learning experiences, and opportunities for reflections.

Thomas also gives some suggestions for projects. She says students can volunteer to help seniors at Shepherd’s Garden with technical problems from phones and computers, or volunteering for art or music programs. 

“We’re open to just about anything that people want to volunteer for,” said Thomas.  

The process to submit a project is very simple. On the Edmonds College website, there is a form for students that are interested in the Shepherd’s Garden project to fill out. Sinning says the form has students give a brief outline of their project, along with a plan and schedule. There are also a few required reflection activities.   

For students that are interested, the Shepherd’s Garden service learning project will be offered throughout the summer quarter. 

“We’re excited and we want to grow. We’re not going to give up just because we had low participation this quarter,” said Sinning.