As college students get ready to begin classes over the coming weeks, Kallie Inman is gearing up for year two of an innovative Sunset resident engagement program. Kallie, Life Enrichment Assistant at Sunset Village, developed the program in 2017 as a way to connect veterans living at Sunset with ROTC students in universities around the country. The program proved highly popular among residents and students, alike. So Kallie is expanding this year to involve more schools and additional residents.
With U.S. military veterans making up roughly 18 percent of Sunset Village’s residents, Kallie saw an opportunity to engage that population with some future military officers. She contacted ROTC programs at nearly fifty colleges and universities, and most agreed to encourage their students to interact with Sunset’s residents.
Kallie initially imagined a pen pal program through which residents and students could exchange letters. Soon, students from colleges such as Yale, Ohio State University, Notre Dame, University of Nevada, Florida State, Baylor, and Auburn—as well as military academies West Point and Air Force—were corresponding in writing with residents.
Before long residents and students began meeting online, chatting face-to-face via the video conferencing application Skype. Residents are thrilled to talk with students throughout the country. And students appreciate asking veterans about life in the military.
“Residents like interacting with students and asking about their studies, and students like asking veterans for advice about their future military careers,” says Kallie. “Most of the video calls last about half an hour or so.”
In addition to veteran soldiers, residents whose family members served in the military began joining the conversations with students. Now, widows of former soldiers and mothers to those currently serving in the nation’s armed forces, enjoy talking with ROTC students.
Kallie has already received commitments from many of last year’s participating schools to involve their students again this fall. And she has identified a new way to include other Sunset Village residents in the unique program this year.
“We happen to have lots of sports fans living at Sunset Village,” explains Kallie. “So this year, we’re expanding our Skype calls to include student athletes. We’ve already connected with cheerleading squads and twirling teams from several schools, including University of Georgia, Washington, and Boston College.”
Kallie’s program is very much in keeping with Sunset’s vision of creating an organization that promotes innovation, provides comprehensive services, and builds community partnerships. And it meets our goals to inspire positive attitudes toward daily living among our residents, to help renew their former interests while discovering new ones, and to recognize the contributions each can continue making to the community.
If you would like more information about Sunset’s ongoing commitment to socially engaging our residents, please contact Kallie at 419-724-1200, or email her here.