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Jewish@edu – Learning From Our Seniors
Monica Merzin } jewish@edu writer
I had the privilege to spend my summer as a Jeanette and Oscar Cook JOIN intern, a local annual internship program in Jewish communal service administered through JVS. I interned at Jewish Senior Life (JSL) in Oak Park.
I spent half of my summer working at Coville Assisted Living and the other half at Prentis Independent Living apartments. I was nervous at first, having no experience with older adults outside my family, but quickly fell in love with the work. I got to work with the administrators, social workers and program coordinators at each facility.
With the program coordinators, I got to lead exercise classes, play bingo, do brain activities and go on outings to Kensington Metropark and different synagogues for concerts. It was a great way to get to know the residents.
With the social workers, I learned how to do assessments, work with the families and help meet the needs of the residents. I learned so much from not just the staff but from the residents themselves; they have so much wisdom.
One of my favorite parts was listening to some of them get interviewed. They were asked, “What was something you would want the younger generations to know to live a long, good life?”
Many of them said, “Live in each moment and stay involved and active.”
I always thought I wanted to work as a school social worker, but this opened my eyes to something new, so now I have a new field to explore. JSL takes care of its residents, and I am so happy I got the opportunity to be a part of their team. Knowing I was able to impact them just as much as they impacted me was a great feeling.
I think it’s easy to focus on the younger generations, but it is important to remember the importance our elders have in society and the care they need, too.
Each week on Friday we got to visit other Jewish agencies in Metro Detroit, which was very cool. I never knew what many of these agencies fully did and to see how our community works together is incredible. It was nice getting to hear the other interns’ experiences, too.
Jewish life in Detroit is definitely different from anywhere else, and I am so happy I got to learn more about it as a JOIN Intern this summer. @
Monica Merzin of West Bloomfield is a senior at Wayne State University. She is active in AEPhi Sorority and Hillel of Metro Detroit.