Existing Project

Young at Heart Society

Julia Dima

New York

Separated by a few hundred yards and decades of life, a school and a senior center share the same block in Brooklyn, New York. The Young at Heart Society aims to connect the two to provide opportunities for mutual learning, company and kindness. This existing project, which currently includes foreign language instruction and periodic performances by young students from the school will be expanded to include additional subjects of interest to the seniors. Julia will use the funds to purchase formal teaching materials, recruit other student volunteers and also provide for the use of technology to enhance the learning experience for the center members. The long term plan is to use this partnership as a model which can be implemented by other schools in their communities.

Updates from Young at Heart Society

June, 2020
My name is Julia Dima, I’m sixteen years old and I live in New York City. My project is called the Young At Heart Society and it aims to connect senior citizens to students of all ages.

My grandfather passed away in 2016 and my grandmother fell into an immediate depression. After visiting a senior center, she was able to get exposure to new topics and culture but most importantly, had a chance to meet people like her with similar life situations. She used to speak so fondly not only of her new friends but also of the volunteers that she met at the center. I wanted to recreate something similar closer to home.

I noticed the St. Charles Jubilee Center a couple of blocks away from my school. I had probably passed it 100 times it but until that moment, never realized the connection that could be formed just a few hundred yards away. Fast forward a couple of years and we now have a partnership between my school and St. Charles that expands well beyond the first Spanish classes for the seniors that I taught on Tuesday afternoons.

I am honored and excited to work with Riley’s Way because the opportunities they provide will help me expand my project and keep it alive after I graduate in 2021. This year my plans include recruiting younger students to be in charge of the program so the relationship between my school and St. Charles continues. I also intend to use this successful endeavor as a model for similar initiatives at other schools. The pandemic has created some challenges - getting a high risk group together again means an unexpected focus on making sure the center has basic supplies like sanitizer and wipes to keep people safe. But it has also taught me personally about what isolation really feels like and it has only strengthened my commitment to continue to build this program.