Connecting Generations: ReServists at Lincoln Square BID

ReServe is a national nonprofit that matches older adults 55+ (“ReServists”) with part-time, stipended social-purpose opportunities for service at nonprofit organizations and public institutions.

The mission of Lincoln Square Business Improvement District (BID) is to make the Lincoln Square neighborhood in the Upper West Side of New York City cleaner, safer, and more beautiful, and to undertake various improvement projects. In 2010, ReServe placed two ReServists at the Lincoln Square BID.

Meet ReServists Selma Jackson, a retired business owner and Elizabeth Grant, formerly in human resources at the United Nations. In his video, Selma and Elizabeth discuss their placements at the Lincoln Square BID and the role they’ve played in fostering intergenerational collaboration. They are joined by Monica Blum, president of Lincoln Square BID. 

Selma and Elizabeth were placed as Information Ambassadors, staffing Lincoln Square’s kiosks, and paired with college and high school students. The students looked to them as mentors. Selma would occasionally assign them “homework,” such as visiting cultural institutions and Elizabeth taught them about the history of Jazz. The ReServists also gave them pointers on how to interact with the public—the many tourists and visitors to Lincoln Square.

Lincoln Square BID hosts an annual outdoor Winter Festival known as Winter’s Eve, and they invited Selma and Elizabeth back. Selma staffed the event, and Elizabeth reached out to local businesses to request their participate and promote the event. Elizabeth was very personable, and her efforts resulted in increased participation than in previous years. The Time Warner Center’s participation in Winter’s Eve was largely due to Elizabeth’s engagement. Her arts background was also critical in making the event a success. You can learn more by watching a director’s cut of the video here.

These are just one of the many instances of connecting generations that ReServe helps to foster. READY, another ReServe program and funded by AmeriCorps, recruits, trains and deploys ReServists to provide one-on-one help to students in high-need high schools who need to learn about and apply to college. They provide support with college essay-writing, college applications, completion of the FAFSA form, as well as planning and organizing college fairs and trips.

ReServists also participate in the Success Mentors program. Success Mentors is an initiative organized under the Office of the Mayor of the City of New York. ReServe places ReServists in New York City public schools to serve as mentors to improve the attendance rate of students that have a history of chronic truancy. In one school, 44% of the students assigned to ReServist Success Mentors improved their attendance rate.


About the Team

The team that produced this video included Jesse Dean, ReServe’s Director, Marketing and Communications, as well as Ed English, himself a ReServist, whose primary career was in the corporate communications sector. An intergenerational workplace, ReServe employs staff ranging from age 22 to 75 and is proud to be a learning laboratory that documents and implements the best practices for America’s 21st century workforce.