EAST LANSING, Mich. — 99-year-old East Lansing resident Irv Nichols and 19-year-old Michigan State University student Shweta Adsul are the best of friends.
Adsul says she loves hanging out with Nichols because he has so much life knowledge.
“Irv, I want to ask you, and I’ve probably asked you this before, but what keeps you going? What makes you happy every day," she asks.
Nichols replies, “I have an interest in helping other people, and if you make it fun, which I have been able to do, it works out very nicely.”
Nichols and Adsul met through a unique partnership between the city of East Lansing’s Prime Time Senior Program, Michigan State University’s Age Alive Program and the MSU College of Social Science Scholars Senior Ambassadors Program.
It started in 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic and matches older residents with MSU students with similar interests.
Participants initially met over Zoom and now meet in person.
Lori Strom works for MSU and helps to organize the Senior Ambassadors Program.
“The students themselves were looking for an outreach opportunity," says Strom. "And they were feeling that older people who are isolated and lonely in their homes could really benefit from inter-generational relationships with college students.”
I asked Nichols and Adsul what does a 99-year-old man and a 19-year-old college student have in common?
“I think the one thing I’ve noticed about us is that we are both people’s people. That fuels us," Adsul said.
“We have in common the same things that our grandfather and a granddaughter would have in common," said Nichols. "You want to help the person become as capable in the areas that they are interested in as possible.”
Nichols and Adsul say they love to go to shows, watch movies, listen to the symphony and mostly just enjoy good conversations together.
They both say they benefit from their friendship.
"It is not something I expected," says Adsul. "But I have grown the most out of it. I've gained the most out of knowing Irv, out of knowing his family."
Adsul adds, “I just want to encourage people out there to try to make these connections and not shy away from them or not. You know, see the value in them.”
“Seniors are great neighbors because they have time, and they have history and knowledge and wisdom," adds Strom.
We agree! If you want to learn more about becoming a part of the Senior Ambassadors Program, visit their website.
We want to thank the participants of the Senior Ambassadors Program, You are this week’s Good Neighbors.
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