New Student Organization Seeks to Combat Social Isolation Among Students & Alumni

New Student Organization Seeks to Combat Social Isolation Among Students & Alumni

Members of The Concordium Club

Front row from left: The Concordium Co-Presidents Brianna VanDermark '22 and Brigid Belger '22 Back row from left: Alyssa Korn '22, COSO Representative, Erin Patten '22, Elderly Outreach Coordinator, Lauren Dierks '22, Volunteer Recruiter

The Concordium program cultivates meaningful bonds in intergenerational relationships through a careful matching process to combat social isolation and improve the mental and physical health of its participants.

“I am so thrilled to be working with an amazing group of peers to bring this program to the Fairfield community, and we are hoping to make strides in decreasing loneliness through these important, valuable phone calls.”

— Brigid Belger ‘22, The Concordium Co-President

“Let’s combat loneliness together,” said Brigid Belger ‘22, co-president of The Concordium. In response to the pandemic, she and a group of dedicated junior nursing, public health, and social work students have brought this intergenerational relationship-building program to Fairfield University. Designed to foster mentor-mentee bonds via phone calls between older members of the community and students, Fairfield's alumni and parent communities are encouraged to participate.

Through outreach by phone, club members hope to reduce loneliness in the midst of the pandemic and form reciprocal relationships to combat social isolation. When asked how she came up with the idea, Belger described how a friend from high school, Anagah Kumar, co-founded The Concordium program at Harvard University. "While I was home over quarantine this summer, I saw an opportunity to get involved on her Facebook. I was paired with someone in my hometown and we grew to have an amazing relationship. She told me about her travels, her life story, and gave me amazing life advice. Hearing her voice on the phone every week brought me so much joy and comfort when I was especially lonely, and I know that I was doing the same for her, by just being a listening ear.”

Belger, along with club co-president Brianna VanDermark ’22, Council of Student Organizations (COSO) Representative Alyssa Korn ‘22, Outreach Coordinator Erin Patten ‘22, and Volunteer Recruiter Lauren Dierks ’22 are currently looking for Golden Stags to talk to students and build new relationships.

“Fairfield University students who participate in The Concordium are agents for change — caring for the whole person involves the mind, body, and spirit. We hope that by building lasting and fulfilling relationships through these conversations, these aspects of cura personalis can be enriched.” 

After a careful process of pairing Fairfield students with aging members of the community, participants will have weekly or bi-weekly phone call check-ins. Started by Harvard students in Cambridge, Mass., The Concordium program has been developed with the supervision of many well-known advisors, such as the Massachusetts state president of AARP, public health professionals, and social work researchers. The program is currently being studied by Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Members of the Fairfield chapter hope that Golden Stags or even parents of parents of alumni and current students might refer family members or friends to connect with Fairfield students. Belger said, “I am so thrilled to be working with an amazing group of peers to bring this program to the Fairfield community, and we are hoping to make strides in decreasing loneliness through these important, valuable phone calls.”

Calling all Golden Stags! If interested in becoming a part of The Concordium Fairfield University Chapter, please click here or call (203) 307-0341 and they will work on pairing you with a student.

Tags:  Alumni Stories,  Parent Stories

Last modified: 03-05-21 8:56 AM

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