When 90-year-old Dr. Julian Albergotti, a resident at Southminster retirement community, heard an inspiring presentation at his church about some of Charlotte’s most at risk youth and a program that was making a difference he knew he wanted to get involved.

Soon after, Albergotti drove Southminster’s Philanthropy director out to meet leadership at the Greater Enrichment Program (GEP) to brainstorm how 90 and 9-year-olds could work together to do everything from improve kids’ reading scores to decrease social isolation among older adults by keeping them engaged in community work, and enriching the lives of at risk youth.

Studies show that 92 percent of Americans believe intergenerational activities can help reduce loneliness. Charitable gifts to Southminster’s Community Fund have become the ideal conduit for bringing older people together with younger people to share cultural enrichment experiences, stay engaged in the community, learn and have fun.

To that end, Southminster recently presented the Greater Enrichment Program (GEP) with a $25,000 gift to help fund its newest afterschool site at Montclaire Elementary. Southminster’s gift, along with a donation from Selwyn Avenue Presbyterian Church, will allow the site to operate for an entire year, including funding a summer program.

The new Montclaire site, which opened September 4, 2019 has 50, K-5 students, primary ESL (Spanish) and African American students deemed high poverty and at-risk. The average daily attendance for the first quarter was more than 90 percent overall – 98 percent in the K-1 grade group.

The students have engaged in variety of academic and cultural enrichment activities with Girls Scouts, Kids Heart Felt Health Cooking, Charlotte Children’s Theater, Charlotte Children’s Choir. They have also taken field trips to Discovery Place Science Museum, UNCC’s International Festival, and a Charlotte Hornets Game, and participated in special programs such as Mad Science of the Metrolina, Party Pets, Brazilian Martial Arts and yoga.”

The students are having the time of their lives. Most of them have never experienced the activities and field trips we offer,” said Bronica Glover, Executive Director .“ Parents are also engaged– we had a successful Fall Family Night with almost 100% parent participation last week. Our first quarter parents’ survey results revealed that the parents are very satisfied with the program and their kids love it.”

GEP takes 75 students home by bus each day, making sure they arrive safely at their front doors. Three afterschool teaching associates and a part time site director are employed at the new GEP site at Montclaire Elementary.

“GEP and Southminster have been working together for several years through our intergenerational Reading Buddy program — students visit Southminster residents for one-to-one reading,” said Tracy McGinnis, Southminster’s Director of Philanthropy. “In December, the two groups worked on a joint service project, and we’ll resume the Reading Buddy program in January. We are so happy to be able to further expand our relationship with GEP by contributing to the afterschool program.”

The ongoing GEP relationship aligns with Southminster’s charitable mission of connecting generations to build a stronger Charlotte Mecklenburg.  Over the past five years Southminster has spearheaded several intergenerational community programs including intergenerational playgrounds and cycling programs, and will continue to expand programming in the community in 2020 by working with national leaders on intergenerational community building.