99-Year-Old And High School Student Form Unlikely Friendship
March 2, 2021
A 99-year-old woman and a high school student in British Columbia have formed a wonderful friendship through a program that connects seniors with young people.
Myrtle MacDonald and Jaelyn Bjornerud-Brown / CBC
Myrtle MacDonald, 99, says she signed up for the local program after feeling isolated during the pandemic.
She was paired with Jaelyn Bjornerud-Brown, 17, based on their common interest — nursing.
"I just found her more interested and less in a hurry than I expected. It has filled an empty spot," MacDonald told CBC.
For the high school students participating, the time spent with seniors can be used toward volunteer hours needed for graduation. They're supposed to speak for 30 minutes each week, but many go far beyond that.
"I love and look forward to getting to talk to her every week. [We talk] about an hour and 15 minutes, the time just goes by so quickly," said Bjornerud-Brown.
MacDonald, a former nurse, spent much of her life teaching and living in other parts of the world helping people in need.
The stories are inspiring to Bjornerud-Brown, who also wants to become a nurse.
"In high school they kind of say you go to school, you get a job, you have kids. It's a linear thing [but] talking to her has made me realize I don't have to limit myself to one thing. I can have it all," she said.
According to the Compassionate Neighbourhood Health Partners Society, the program has been a blessing to both seniors and high school students. Due to the pandemic, seniors can't meet with their families and students are having trouble getting their volunteer hours.
"And there's been a huge positive response from them," said the program's organizer Connie Stam.
"We have a 94-year-old man connected with a 16-year-old and he is writing his memoir for him. The 16-year-old says it's just amazing all the stories."
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