SUMMIT, NJ - The Summit Area YMCA has launched its first member-led, community service "Togetherhood" project at the Summit Senior Housing complex. "Togetherhood" provides The Y's members with a fun, convenient, socially responsible and rewarding channel to identify ways members can give back and support the community.

Chaired by Kevin Hill and led by a group of sixteen volunteers that included Liz Newell, Susan Permahos, John Kaiser, Mibs Wagner, and Shi-Yi Kim, the group worked together for eight months to research community needs and then, based on the apparent gaps, focused their efforts on serving the unmet needs of the senior population.

The event brightened the day for many, and served as an example of The Y strengthening the fabric of our community by leveraging its member’s ideas, skills, energy, and network.

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According to the AARP, an increase in adults who did not have children within the past few decades has led to fewer family members available to provide the care and company that adults need as seniors.

Senior isolation can be alarming and even harmful, as the lack of social interactions and contacts decrease over time due to death, lack of mobility, retirement and other life factors. Extended loneliness -- and perceived loneliness -- can contribute to not only cognitive decline, but also in increase in the risk for dementia, depression, and high blood pressure.

More than 60 volunteers donated their time as they led 65 resident seniors in activities that included bingo, a magic show, pet therapy, health screenings, exercise, live music and dancing, and a healthy cooking demonstration. 

“The 'Togetherhood' program is a great way for Y members to become more socially responsibility by participating in the Y’s cause to strengthen our community. It’s a great way for families and people of all ages to help strengthen the community through personally rewarding projects. We had volunteers that ranged from 7 to 70 years old,” said Patty Facchinei, Volunteer Coordinator at the Summit YMCA, a branch of the Summit Area YMCA.

Facchinei added, “The seniors sent us thank you cards thanking us for such a special day and expressed how they all enjoyed it tremendously. They couldn’t stop talking about how special they felt that we were doing this for them. They enjoyed the lunch and loved all the activities presented, they especially enjoyed all the all volunteers who spent time with them eating lunch, playing games and listening to their stories. The best part was that they asked us if we could come back and do it again someday, which we would be happy to.”

For more information about "Togetherhood," visit thesay.org/Volunteering/Togetherhood.