Students benefit from Adopt a Grandparent program

Lauren Nicholson
BYU student Tanner Hutchinson completes a puzzle with Sharon Schaefer and Jerry Mohre at the Cove Point Retirement Community in Provo. (Y-Serve Photo) 

Candy, paintings and an old walker with jingle bells on it still remind Mariah Moody of the special experience she had at the Cove Point Retirement Community. That is where she met an unexpected friend.

Moody, a BYU junior studying public health, shared a personal story about her time with the Adopt a Grandparent program offered through BYU’s Y-Serve. She was invited by a friend to serve at a local assisted living facility and interact with the residents.

While at the facility, Moody met Mary Ellen Moses. They sat down together and immediately started making connections about their lives despite the age difference.

“She was baptized when she was 17 and I was too.  She told me that she was from California, and I said, ‘Wow, me too.’ She served in McAllen, Texas, and I was like ‘… I did also,’” Moody said. “It’s crazy how similar our lives were.”

Moses invited Moody into her room and offered her some treats from a candy jar.

“Those people in these rest homes only need someone to talk to and interact with,” Moody said. “Mary Ellen was just so happy to have us there. I felt so good about meeting her. She made a huge impression on my life, I can’t stop smiling even now talking about it. I will always remember this experience.”

Although Moody and Moses only met briefly, Moody said she will always remember how Mary Ellen made her feel and the connection they made that day.

“The Adopt a Grandparent program offers many different opportunities for students to interact with the elderly living in rest homes,” said Cole Martin, one of the project directors for the program.

Martin said students can sign up for an hour each week for a semester to get involved.  They can help with a variety of activities for the elderly. Some paint fingernails, play bingo, play games, read with the elderly or have one-on-one visits with those who don’t often get to talk to people.

Community service coordinator Rebecca Smoot said the Y-Serve mission is to provide every student with a meaningful service opportunity and to instill in the heart and mind a desire to give lifelong service.

“Volunteering provides students with an opportunity to get involved in something they are passionate about where they can look beyond their own circumstances and appreciate what others are experiencing,” Smoot said. “Besides making a difference in someone else’s life, the service students provide will also make big difference in their own lives.”

Nutritional science student Tanner Hutchinson said he loves participating in the program because it allows him to relate to, sympathize with, and serve the community around him.

“Joining Adopt a Grandparent will enhance your life by interacting and serving the lonely to help unite our community,” Hutchinson said.

Students can get involved in the Adopt a Grandparent program at or by visiting the Y-Serve office in rooms 2330 or 2010 of the Wilkinson Student Center.

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