99-year-old Myrtle MacDonald and high-school student Jaelyn Bjornerud-Brown formed an unlikely friendship after being paired through a program that connects seniors with young people.
The elderly women signed up for the program after feeling isolated and lonely during the pandemic. She was paired with the 17-year-old Jaelyn, with whom she instantly connected over their common interest – nursing.
High-school students in British Columbia participate in the program because the time spent with seniors is added toward the volunteer hours they need for graduation. They’re supposed to spend 30 minutes per week with their elderly friends, but many go far beyond the expected minimum.
True Friendship Doesn’t Care about Age
In a recent interview, MacDonald shared that she found Jaelyn to be more interested and less in a hurry than she had anticipated. She also added that the 17-year-old filled an empty spot in her life. Jaelyn, on the other hand, commented that she not only loves talking to her new friend but also looks forward to their meetings. Their get-togethers last slightly more than an hour, and according to the teenager, time goes by so quickly.
MacDonald used to be a nurse and spent much of her life living and teaching in other parts of the world. Her stories are an inspiration to Jaelyn who wishes to become a nurse and help people in need.
The Program Received a Huge Positive Response from the Local Community
The program that created this wonderful friendship is managed by the Compassionate Neighbourhood Health Partners Society. Their goal was to help seniors deal with solitude while giving teenagers the opportunity to amass their volunteer hours. However, the success of the program surpassed expectations, according to its organizer Connie Stam.
The friendship between MacDonald and Bjornerud-Brown is a testament that age is only a number. Furthermore, it shows that spending time with the elderly can teach valuable lessons to teenagers whose life is just about to start.