DSU Love Caravan Club reaches out to elderly community
By Aaron Guillen, Staff Reporter
According to a 2012 report, Canadians agreed that seniors 75 and older are seen as less important and are more often ignored than younger generations in society. Jesús Lopez, current President of DSU Love Caravan Club, strives to change that perspective, especially among college students.
As a part of Love Builder, a non-profit organization across BC, the student-run DSU Love Caravan introduces young and vibrant students to the joys of connecting with the local senior community.
“As our program aims to bring love to the seniors in the community, we devote [our time and efforts] to promoting the virtues of being caring, responsible, and respectful among the young generation,” said Lopez. “Thus, we are not only being supportive to our current community, we plan and take action to create a positive cycle for its future as well.”
Many of the students who are members of the DSU Love Caravan are international. Lopez talked about “kodokushi,” a societal phenomenon that has been taking place in Japan. Translated literally, it means “lonely death.” In growing numbers, seniors without social connection are found weeks or sometimes months after their deaths. Initiatives like the DSU Love Caravan take strides in preventing kodokushi from making its way into Canada in the future.
While the burden of balancing student life and volunteer time has been a challenge for many of its members, the DSU Love Caravan moves along every day.
“I am part of Love Caravan because I feel happy when I see seniors’ faces. It brings me warmth. I also can meet different people from other countries and it gives me the opportunity to have a broader way of thinking. It also helps me practice my English skills,” said Kana Chan, a member of the group.
Last year, the Love Caravan successfully organized the first Cross-Canada Volunteer Tour for seniors. They hope to run the tour once again during the upcoming summer months. Lopez, alongside various organizers across the province, hopes to develop the program into a nation-wide initiative that will be embraced by most Canadian youth in the upcoming years. The DSU Love Caravan has served over 1,200 seniors in the Metro Vancouver region. In addition, more than 90 per cent of seniors said that they appreciated the boost of mental happiness they were brought through the Love Caravan.
“I am part of Love Caravan because I feel this is not only a good thing to do, but also a right thing to do,” said Love Caravan member Alan Cho.
“Just try our volunteer work for just one time. At the end of every event, seniors will come and say, ‘Thank you’ or ‘We need more people like you in our society,’” Cho said. “After [hearing their gratitude], my friends and I are no longer the same people who thought they should have been playing League of Legends during that time, or regretted not going to English Bay with our best friends. I can guarantee you that you won’t regret that decision for the rest of your life.”
Last week, DSU Love Caravan held their first event as an official DSU club at a retirement home on March 26. For more info on future events, head to their Facebook page, Love Caravan or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The club meets every other week and holds events once a month.