By Hattie Shapard
Hattie Shapard founded the Amity Program when she was 14 years old. This was inspired by a childhood ritual for Hattie, when she would visit an older adult every week and was connected to a woman named Jane.* She would play ping-pong or backgammon–a game Jane had taught her–and eat split pea soup that Jane had made. Jane had family members come in and out all the time and would even play ping pong with the doorman. She was surrounded by people and certainly not alone. For Hattie, saying goodbye was still a challenge. Hattie has a very close relationship with other older adults in her life, and has been fortunate to have been taught by her grandparents how to cook, garden, appreciate art, value honesty above all else, and work for what she wants. Hattie has found great value in learning from the older generation and wanted to reduce senior isolation and increase intergenerational interaction for all.
In February of 2020, Hattie Shapard founded the Amity Program as a pen-pal program to connect students with senior citizens who lived alone. The program has expanded to include older adults who are not alone in the slightest and would just like to connect with the younger generation. Once the pandemic hit, the Amity Program transitioned to phone communication, a program that ran alongside the pen-pal program. Since its founding, the Program has continued to add new offerings. For example, in June of 2020, Hattie noticed the caregivers of dementia patients in her life were tired and needed a break. Consequently, Hattie started the Art Box program which makes a monthly delivery of free art supplies to those living with dementia. In addition, when schools reached out to the Amity Program looking to get involved in large groups, the Program began their card-making initiative, allowing anyone to make a card for an isolated individual.
Currently, the Amity Program is functioning as a 509(a)(c) with its four branches and executing its mission of increasing engagement with senior citizens through intergenerational interaction and direct programming led by Hattie Shapard.
If you would like to join the Amity Program or contribute in another way, please reach out to Hattie Shapard (email@example.com) or through the website, https://www.amityprogram.org/.
* Jane is replacing the individual’s name to protect her privacy