by Chuck Hoven
(Plain Press, May 2016) Several times a year, seniors from the James Woods Center of the Rose Centers for Aging Well at Riverview Towers at 1795 W. 25th Street welcome visitors from the Arrupe Neighborhood Partnership’s after school program at St. Ignatius High School, said Jerry Purcell Director of the Rose Center for Aging Well – Woods.
On April 13th, a dozen elementary school students attending the afterschool program at the Arrupe Neighborhood Partnership Program at 2071 W. 30th Street, along with Arrupe staff members and St. Ignatius High School student volunteers, visited with senior citizens in the cafeteria at Riverview Towers. The elementary students, high school students and Riverview Tower senior citizens broke into small groups and engaged discussion about life lessons. The senior citizens shared life lessons with young people eager to interview them in hopes of learning from their experiences. The event culminated with the students creating a scrap book page of some of their experiences at the Arrupe Center that focused on life lessons they have learned.
St. Ignatius High School senior Andrew Perz, one of the high school students volunteering at the Arrupe Neighborhood Partnership, said they call the after school program Bigs & Littles. He explained that the program offers a chance for Ignatius students (Bigs) to interact and mentor neighborhood elementary school students (Littles).
Madison Moreno, a Jesuit Volunteer working as a staff member at the Arrupe Neighborhood Partnership, said elementary school students, participating in the after school program at the Arrupe Neighborhood Partnership Program this year, come from three different schools – Paul Dunbar, Urban Community School and Metro Catholic School.
Jim Mulholland, another Arrupe staff member, explained that he is an Alumni Volunteer. He explained that as a St. Ignatius High School Alumni (Class of 2011) Volunteer he is engaging in a Year of Discernment after completing his Bachelor’s degree and graduating from college in 2015. Mulholland says working with young students at the Arrupe Center is a good experience to help prepare him for his goal to become a teacher. Mulholland plans to pursue a Masters Degree in Education after completing his Year of Discernment.
In one small group, two sixth grade students from Metro Catholic School Angeline Torres and Mia Mayorga-Jordan join with St. Ignatius High School Senior Andrew Perz to discuss life lessons with Riverview Tower resident Richard Benjamin. Arrupe staff members pass out pictures from field trips and other activities this year to add to the scrap book pages. When Torres and Mayorga-Jordan begin working on their scrap book pages, they consult with Perz and Benjamin on how to proceed and as they near completion Benjamin praises the quality of their work. Mia receives approval from Benjamin on the theme of her life lesson page “No weakness, just strength.”
Torres and Mayorga-Jordan both say they are enjoying participating in the Arrupe afterschool program. They especially enjoy the field trips and activities. Torres, now age 12, says she has been involved with the Arrupe program since she was eight years old. Mayorga-Jordan says this is her first year participating in the program.