Church: Excelsior UMC
District: Twin Cities
Submitted by: Jane Johnson
Hannah Dudak, a junior at Chanhassen High School, wanted to connect different generations at her church, Excelsior United Methodist—and she implemented a program to do just that.
Dudak, a Girl Scout, received a Gold Award (the highest achievement in Girl Scouting) for her work on the program, "Connecting the Generations," which provides an opportunity for the church's children to interact with its most senior members. The award requires active leadership, community impact, community issue and root cause, creativity, time commitment of a minimum of 80 hours of planning and implementing the individual project, and sustainability.
"The issue that my project addressed was that there weren’t specific opportunities in my church to connect the various generations," Dudak said. "I felt it was important to have everyone from kindergarten to seniors interact with one another."
On the second Sunday of each month from September through May, kindergartners through fifth-grade students gather with 10 senior church members after worship to talk, make a craft, or play a game. When finished, the children show their parents what they worked on and introduce their parents to their new "Generation Buddy," or "G-buddy."
Dudak's hope is that by connecting the generations, the seniors would volunteer for more of the children's events and Sunday school children would engage in volunteer opportunities to help the seniors.
"Because of my project, the kids, their parents, and the seniors are all interacting with each other…there is a new and exciting vibe around the church," she said.
Dudak ended up contributing more than 100 hours to the project.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church