Our Stories — Supporter
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Robert Shea, PhD
Director of Faculty Development, Bryant University
"ELAHP gave me more than I can really put into words."
While working as a professor of Sociology at Pine Manor College in Newton, Bob Shea was looking for a service project for his students, and a colleague suggested he contact ELAHP. ELAHP gave Bob's students the opportunity to "put a face on elderly homelessness." He found an experience that would teach them lessons that no lecture or reading could accomplish.
Students visited ELAHP's shelter-based program, cleaned the living space there, made blankets and shared them with ELAHP's clients. This interaction lifted spirits on both sides and taught his students about the need to become socially responsible, engaged citizens.
"It forced them to move beyond simplistic and dualistic ideas about the causes and nature of homelessness," Bob explains, "and to come to see that social problems are complex, multifaceted, and multi-causal. At a time in their adolescent development where young people can be a bit self-center and focused on what they can get from an education, ELAHP gave them a chance to learn that a rewarding life also requires service to others."
The students came away from the experience sharing ELAHP's belief that finding solutions required more than compassion; it necessitated systematic, structural, and cultural changes that honored the worth of all human beings. Bob's association with ELAHP also provided opportunities for him and his students to contribute to a solution while being able to meet and learn from ELAHP'S clients.
Bob served on ELAHP's Advisory Board for a number of years, and led the Boston part of a three country research project investigating the causes of homelessness among older adults.
"ELAHP gave me more than I can really put into words," Bob says. He believes that the ability to connect his students to the reality of what they were studying made him a better teacher and the research he did while working with ELAHP made him a better scholar. "I am forever grateful for the opportunities and for these gifts."