Last month, we shared what we have learned from some of the voices of our community. We also said that we would have more to share on the results of our literature review, and from ongoing interviews with current and former community members.
Making a Difference for Young Families
Our research and experience tells us that the model we are creating—the Therapeutic Interactive Intergenerational Neighborhood (TIIN)—is distinct from other programs. It adds unique value for residents and the broader community by bringing people together from different ages and backgrounds, creating a unique mix of talents and resources also known as social capital, where everyone has something to offer.
Providing safe and stable housing is one of the primary ways in which intergenerational neighborhoods can benefit families with young children who may be seeking a supportive community. In the United States, children move more than any other age group. Research links high residential mobility to achievement deficits, risk-taking, problem behaviors, and depression (Anderson, Leventhal, Newman, & Dupéré, 2014).
Intergenerational neighborhoods that offer affordable housing can create stability in a safe and opportunity-filled community. Housing permanence translates into strengthened ties with neighbors and schools, allowing families to “put down roots” and become fully engaged in the larger community (Anderson et al., 2014; Kaplan et al., 2017). We look forward to the next stage of development at Hope & A Future, which will include more affordable housing for families with young children, enabling us to do more to connect young and old.
Following is an example of how theory lines up with real life.
After her divorce, Cami was a single mother living in a small town in Texas with two young girls. Where she was living, she had a lot of family within a close drive, and her parents lived nearby; however, she also felt the need to make a change. She had lived in Madison previously and still felt a draw to the place, but the question was how she would be able to support two kids as a single parent on a teacher’s income in Madison.
While living in Madison previously, Cami had met Rick and Karin Krause through her ex-husband, when they’d all gone to the same church together. She had kept in touch with the Krauses over time and distance. Right around the time Hope & A Future was moving into the new property on High Point Road, Cami asked Rick and Karin about the possibility of living and working with them.
Cami’s parents were reticent to see her leave, but her father helped her load a moving van and make the drive. The girls also knew Rick and Karin, and while sad to be leaving friends, they were excited to be returning to Madison. Changing schools is difficult, and Cami promised her oldest daughter that she wouldn’t have to change schools again. Her younger daughter started 4K after they arrived.
During Hope & A Future’s locational transition, while the former farm house on High Point Road was undergoing a renovation and addition, Cami and her daughters moved into Rick and Karin’s house on Branch Street in Middleton. Cami took a teaching job in the area and also got her CNA license so she could help out as a caregiver two nights a week and every other weekend.
When the move into the High Point property was completed, Hope & A Future truly became “multi-generational”, with two young girls and their mother living side-by-side with elderly residents. Because of its location just outside the corporate limits of the City of Madison, the High Point Road property was also within the same public school district boundaries as the Branch Street house. This meant that they were able to stay in the same schools as before, allowing Cami to keep her promise to her oldest daughter about not having to switch schools again.
During their time at Hope & A Future, the family formed close bonds with several staff and residents. Ruthie, a staff member, used to meet the younger of the two girls at the bus stop each afternoon, and they spent a lot of time together. Both girls formed fast friendships with Karen, another staff member, and with the elderly residents, especially Margaret. Particularly impactful to Cami in her time as a caregiver was spending time with Pat, a resident who had lost her mobility and speech. Pat managed to enjoy life despite her limitations, and Cami was impressed by Pat’s patience with those around her as they tried to communicate with her and meet her needs.
Last year, Cami remarried, and she and the girls moved out to live with her new husband. Reflecting on their time at Hope & A Future, Cami said, “You never felt alone. There was always someone to talk with.” This had been especially important to all three of them when they first moved here from out of state, with divorce still a recent memory. It also gave Cami great consolation and a sense of security to know that she never had to worry about her kids being alone. It was sometimes difficult to work nights and weekends while holding down a full-time teaching job, but she found joy in serving the residents and sharing life with them. Living here felt like being at home with extended family. Cami’s younger daughter remembers pool parties in the summer, and her older daughter was particularly fond of a favorite perch for reading, located in a nook at the top of the winding staircase in the old farmhouse.
Today, Cami and her family still visit Hope & A Future, and are active as volunteers. They remember their days here with fondness and are still involved with this family of friends. At the end of our discussion, Cami commented, “If anyone has aging parents, there is no where I’d recommend more than Hope and A Future.”
Get new blog posts, events, and updates from Hope & A Future each month!
Written by members of the Hope & a Future community including residents, volunteers, and staff.