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This program, BEST (Bringing Elders and Students Together) works to improve the Social Work Skills of the students in the Social Work department. The students are given the opportunity in this program to practice home visits to their clients, to ask for information that is needed from the client and to finalize the home visit process with the information needed for the client (the resource binder).
For most of our social work students, this is their first experience interviewing clients. This experience provides them both with the necessary skills to gain employment in social work once they complete their schooling, and also with a different perspective.
A student enrolled in a Social Work Practices course at WCU will contact you to set up 3 interviews with you. By sharing your story during the interviews, you will be helping the student become comfortable talking to an older adult, develop his or her interviewing and assessment skills, and gain a different perspective.
During the interviews the student will be preparing a Resource Book especially for you, their senior partner. This will include photos and memories of major events in your life, in order to create a timeline of your life. The timeline will provide the students with a sense of how a person moves through life stages. The students may also work with you to develop a timeline of your significant events. Your Resource Book, which is yours to keep, will be presented at an Appreciation Reception at the end of the semester, bringing all the volunteers and students together.
The volunteer for the BEST club will be asked to only participate on a few tasks. The volunteer will meet with the student on 3 occasions from one hour to one and a half hours each. The volunteer can pick the location of the meetings and will discuss his/her life history to the student. The volunteer can also supplement the discussion with photos or memorabilia. After the three interviews, the student with create a resource binder that will include all of the information that was discussed during the interviews and will include any photos and memorabilia in the binder. This binder will be returned to the volunteer during the BEST tea where volunteers will be thanked for their participation and enjoy a nice luncheon with their student. Since this is one of the first interviewing experiences for our students, we request that the older adult fills out an evaluation form so the student can understand their strengths and weaknesses.
For the volunteer, all we ask for is 3 hours of time for interviews, an age of 55 or older, attendance at the luncheon, and to fill out the evaluation form. The interviews will take place in February and March and the luncheon will be at the end of April. All interview times, dates and locations will be discussed between the volunteer and the student.
- Stacy Armstrong
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