|| PRESS RELEASE || Azalea resident’s warmheartedly adopted Ons Tuis grandparents
Upon hearing about the Ons Tuis* ‘Adopt a Grandparent’-programme, Michelle Kretzschmar (20) instantly knew this caring initiative would prodigiously drive students getting involved with elderly care.
She most recently was elected as a house committee (HC) member of Azalea residence at the University of Pretoria (Tuks). She found this project to be a perfect suit for her hostel’s community engagement portfolio.
“Although most of us are blessed to have, or have had, grandparents, I’ve learned that children and students are sometimes scared to engage with older people. Taking an interest in them truly opened up our eyes! Through the ‘Adopt a Grandparent’ programme, we now have the opportunity to get to know them and learn from their utterly amazing and interesting experiences,” she says.
Michelle personally handed out approximately 40 letters written by Azalea-girls at Ons Tuis: Riviera and Ons Tuis: Seniorstuis Dienssentrum in Pretoria on 2 June. More letters were delivered to Ons Tuis: Louis Trichardt and Ons Tuis: Van Rensburg in Danville last week. Due to the third Covid-19 wave, the safest option was to delegate only one person. The students are however hopeful that everyone will later have the opportunity to engage with their newly adopted grandparent personally.
“The hand-out of the letters was such a special and humble experience. One lady could not resist the suspense and immediately opened and read hers. I am really passionate about this programme and assume this will be an ongoing project for our hostel. I can’t wait for our next engagement,” she says.
Michelle wants to encourage the public — anyone who can open their hearts to the elderly — to also get involved in the Ons Tuis ‘Adopt a Grandparent’ programme. It entails visiting www.onstuis.org/grootouer/, selecting a retirement village in your area and choosing someone on the list who might share an interest with you. You then have the opportunity to engage with them by communicating (via text messages, emails or written letters), support them financially or send them a pamper-hamper of your choice. The whole process is carefully planned, controlled and safe.
“It did not take much getting our students on-board for this rewardingly, kind project. Our first mission was to write our new grandparent a letter. Every single one of them was unique in its own special way. The ladies had put in a lot of effort and truly wrote from their heart. Most of them started by saying ‘hi’ and introducing themselves: who they are, what they are studying and what they love doing. Now we are excitedly awaiting feedback, getting to know more about our adopted grandparents,” she says.
According to second year BSc Microbiology student, the incentive of participating in this initiative, derives from the age gap between Azalea students and the residents of the Ons Tuis retirement villages.
“I think they must be able to share their life story with others. As students, we are at the brink of starting our own lives. To hear what people have been through and where they are now, makes one realise that anything can happen. Hearing their stories makes me excited to go out and live my life to the fullest and be the best version of myself,” she says.
In this Covid-19 period where the only constant thing is change, this programme (which complies with all the health and safety requirements) makes out to be the most perfect ‘reach out and give’ opportunity.
“For a change we can invest all our energy into something that will not be moved or cancelled. Azalea’s motto for 2021 is love. There is no better way of spreading our love to the older generation than by showing them we appreciate everything they have done for us and celebrating that they truly are an amazing inseparable part of our society,” Michelle concludes.
* Ons Tuis has eight retirement villages across South Africa. They offer various affordable, quality accommodation options to persons over the age of 50; ranging from self-care units to specialised frail care and departments for Alzheimer’s or dementia patients. You are most welcome to contact them on 012 325 1857/8, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.otmt.org for more information.
DATE: 17 June 2021
FOR MEDIA ENQUIRIES CONTACT:
Heleen van As
Spokesperson: Ons Tuis
Cell: 084 655 6006
Admin: Ons Tuis
Tel: (012) 325 1857