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Phil & Mel In The Morning

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Picture this: Six college kids move into an assisted living facility for senior citizens. It sounds like a recipe for disaster. Or a sketch on Saturday Night Live. But this is actually happening at Winona State University in Minnesota.

Senior Living at Watkins, a residence operated by Winona Health, offers assisted living in modern housing attached to a century-old mansion. The facility’s director, Cheryl Krage, came up with the idea of placing students in eight empty rooms above the common areas of the Watkins mansion. So far, the experience has been positive for all involved.

The forty-five senior residents enjoy having their new younger neighbors around. The college students feel like they’re at home. It’s also a pretty good deal for the kids. In exchange for working just ten volunteer hours a month at the residence, they get a spacious room in the mansion for $400. Twenty volunteer hours reduces their rent to $200 per month.

My church places a big emphasis on inter-generational interaction within the congregation. It’s an opportunity to bridge the age gaps, learn from one another, and form new friendships. These folks in Minnesota have clearly figured that out.