Tech Talk

March 2021 View more

When 15-year-old Chicago resident Maya Joshi learned about the state’s stay-at-home order, the first people she thought about were her grandparents. “I regularly see them, but because of the pandemic, I couldn’t do that. Instead, we started doing video calls with them,” she says. When witnessing how much joy her relatives felt from those calls, the teenager knew she was onto something.

After contacting dozens of Chicago-area retirement communities and recruiting other teenage volunteers, Joshi solidified her nonprofit, called Lifting Hearts with the Arts ( Young people and seniors are thoughtfully matched for weekly virtual get-togethers based on similar interests and hobbies focusing on the arts: performance, language, and culinary. Interactions include sing-alongs, performances, discussions, games, reminiscing—whatever the resident enjoys.

LHA currently works with residents at 32 communities, including Monarch Springs in Naperville, and has hosted 2,500 interactions with 45 volunteers. A pen pal program, Letters for Monarch, has also been started by 17-year-old Madison Brown. “I’m very passionate about storytelling and the power of words,” says Brown. “I wanted to create something that could continue and produce long-lasting relationships between volunteers and residents.”