Hi everyone! My name is Amy Tsang. I’m a senior at UCSB and I love working with senior citizens! To the surprise of many UCSB students, Isla Vista is home to over 200 elderly persons who live in a nearly retirement community Friendship Manor in the 66 block of El Colegio. Students walk past the giant green building every day and yet most of the them don’t even know it exists.
My project aims to break common stereotypes against the elderly and increase awareness—as well as more volunteers—at Friendship Manor. The residents ride bikes; they shop at the co-op; they walk down to Sands to collect seashells! These residents do everything a typical Isla Vista person does, but are ignored because students don’t know a lot about them.
I have been a volunteer at Friendship Manor since my freshman year and sophomore year, I became Senior Citizen Coordinator as a part of the Community Affairs Board, which further strengthened my relationship with the people there. For junior and this current year, I’ve become the assistant activities director and have used this time to try to find a way to encourage more volunteering at Friendship Manor.
My project is divided into two parts. One would be to introduce the residents and students to each other through a photography exhibit and reception at a major campus venue. The second part would be to continue the conversation between the elders and the students by making it easier for students to volunteer at Friendship Manor. Specifically, I plan to design a better volunteering webpage. As of now, the volunteers must either call or email me to sign up for events. I would like to hopefully set up a webpage where volunteers can directly sign themselves up. I figure that the easier it is to sign up to volunteer, the more people will want to do it!
The students who do volunteer end up loving the experience and coming back throughout the year, but the issue is first getting people interested in it. In the words of one of the residents: “They have their world, I have Friendship Manor. I don’t want to not be in touch. Let’s just be one world.”