A New Conversation About Service That Crosses Generations

On Sept. 11, AmeriCorps and Generations Over Dinner will co-sponsor intergenerational events at senior living communities across the country. You can help bring one to your town.

By Ethan Lipsitz | May 10, 2023

Dorris, 87, Kate, 35, and Mattie, 86, talk about how they’re of service to others at a MLK Day of Service event.

Photo caption: Dorris, 87, Kate, 35, and Mattie, 86, talk about how they’re of service to others at a MLK Day of Service event.

Can a single meal begin to bridge divides? Back in January, two major partners in CoGenerate’s work teamed up to find out.

On the MLK Day of Service, Generations Over Dinner and AmeriCorps joined with senior living communities across the country to host more than 100 intergenerational lunches and dinners. The topic of conversation at every table? The meaning of service.

The reviews were positive — so positive that the two groups are planning another day of intergenerational meals and conversation on September 11.

Generations Over Dinner has grown to include partnerships outside of the National Day of Service, Sunrise Senior Living just hosted generations over lunch events at all 272 locations in the month of April. 

Mel, a 30-year-old attendee of a lunch at Aegis Living in Seattle, said she valued “hearing everyone’s stories and seeing a lot of commonalities between our generations.” 

Marie, a 99-year-old attendee of the same event, said the lunch “made me aware of the other people at the table, their backgrounds, their interests. We were all so different and yet, we all have almost the same goals.” 

The senior living communities appreciated the chance to participate. “Younger people in the community want to get to know our residents,” said Patricia Jacobs, who runs Juniper Communities’ Catalyst Program in Bloomfield, New Jersey. “And our residents want to be more than care receivers; they also want to be givers.”

“Older generations are concerned for the well-being of today’s youth,” said Ethan Lipsitz, community manager at Generations Over Dinner. “They want to have hard conversations and learn about the lives of their younger counterparts. And younger attendees are fiercely hungry for the wisdom they can glean from those with life experience.”

“Our dinner proved that passionate and impactful conversation can be sparked with individuals who are willing to open their eyes, ears and hearts to those that they perceive as different, but who might not be so different after all,” said Evan Rossi, director of resident experience at Inspir Carnegie Hill in New York City. 

“The walls begin to come down,” he continued. “We learn that the problems we face today are eternal but temporary, the issues that connect us are often trying but universal.”

This fall, on 9/11, Generations Over Dinner and AmeriCorps will once again team up with senior living communities to host conversations about what service means to people of all generations and backgrounds.

If you’re part of a senior living company or community interested in hosting an event, reach out to Ethan Lipsitz at e[at]extremist[dot]love.