Art of Aging: Annual feast that helps the young at heart

WEST PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- An annual Thanksgiving feast is a student project that helps the young and older adults during the holidays.

Every first-year student at Penn's Wharton College of Business must take on what's known as a management 100 project.

"And, what we do is we partner with a non-profit to plan a project or do a task for them," said first-year student Juliana Pena.

This semester's students chose to team up with Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly.

Julianne James is the Executive Director of Philadelphia Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly.

She says, "The overall mission of Little Brothers is to alleviate isolation and loneliness."

The students spent all semester working with the non-profit to plan its annual Thanksgiving feast. The feast is held at a low income senior housing complex in West Philadelphia.

Jaqueline DeBeary of West Philadelphia said, "Oh I think it's wonderful. I really think it's wonderful."

For the seniors, it's welcome company at a time of year when loneliness can be overwhelming.

Jacqueline added, "A lot of time family is not doing like they used to. And, if I don't have something like this, then I'm in my apartment alone."

Gloria Frazier of West Philadelphia said, "People at that time of holidays, it's really crucial, and they must see somebody or be with somebody just to keep a sound mind."

For the students, it's a valuable management experience, learning how to build a budget and a menu, and create a PR buzz. But, it's also a chance to make a difference in someone's day.

Hope Smith, first-year Wharton Student said, "I actually love it because I come from a really big family and personally it's a hard time being away at college and being away from my family. So like it's basically like a slice of home."

Juliana agrees, "I'm someone who has really strong family ties. So just that interaction of people of older age, people who have a lot of experience, you can learn so much from them. So having a chance to interact with them here today is just a wonderful experience that you can't really read in books."

For more information on other senior programs, visit the Art of Aging section.
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