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Redwood Bark

Redwood Bark

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Bridging the gap between elders and youth


“The older you are, the wiser you are.” Whether you’ve heard it from your parents, your grandparents or your teachers, this proverb has been prominent in society for generations. With age comes intelligence, life experience and countless stories. 

When talking to my grandparents about their lives, I have realized that I can gain valuable knowledge and perspective about life. The advice that an elderly person can give is admirable, as it is often given after decades of experience. I fondly remember hearing about my grandfather’s experiences in the Air Force, and my grandmother’s journey with losing her mom at a young age and having to assume a motherly role in her all-male household. By developing close relationships with them, I am able to obtain mature advice from them. Their stories are incredibly unique and ones that I could never get tired of hearing. 

According to a study by Stanford University, relationships are a critical component in well-being, particularly as we age. As people age, they crave interpersonal connection more than before.The study suggests that when older adults are able to connect with a younger generation, such as their children or grandchildren, they tend to experience more mental and physical health benefits, from increased feelings of usefulness, to emotional support, to happiness. As found by the American Society on Aging, being lonely can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease by about 50 percent. 

For part-time Marin residents Mary and David Snyder, intergenerational relationships are necessary for their wellbeing. They are parents to two adults and grandparents to three children, and therefore are able to connect with a variety of generations on a day-to-day basis. David Snyder believes that fostering a connection between older and younger generations can provide important life-lessons and teaching points as life has changed drastically from when he was young.

“We have to appreciate what [the younger generation] knows and understands to guide them, but we as adults have a different perspective on things that they may have,” David said. “We have to understand where they are at, and in time they will understand where we are at.”

There are many lessons that younger people can learn from older generations, but a few in particular stand out to Mary. 

“I hope that [the younger generation will] learn how to respect others and be kind, and additionally to appreciate everybody’s individuality. I hope that they can move forward in a positive direction for all that they are leading and leaving behind,” Mary said. “Appreciate where you are in your generation but be mindful of what the generation before you has handed down.” 

Marin is home to The Redwoods Community for Seniors, an assisted living center that houses many seniors from different backgrounds and environments. Resident Bob Schafer was eager to share his stories and life experiences with the Bark. 

After living in numerous places across the United States, he made the decision to move into The Redwoods three years ago. When asked, he was eager to talk about all of the things that he had done with his life, and he is proud to feel so fulfilled at his age. 

“I don’t have any regrets. I am very happy with the way my life turned out,” Schafer said. 

“My most fulfilling moment in life was when I got married. We were married for 13 years and were together for 13 years before that.” 

Additionally, Mary hopes that our generation can learn to follow their passions. For 44 years, she followed her childhood dream of being a registered nurse and touched the lives of many. 

“I had relatives in the healthcare profession that presented me with a very positive idea of what [working in healthcare] was all about. Growing up, my mom was sick and would have medical workers coming in and out to take care of her, and it made me feel like that was something I wanted to do when I grew up,” Mary said. “So, I worked as a bedside nurse initially, then moved into administrative positions as time went on. For the last 25 years of my career, I worked as the Director of Nursing.”

David also pursued a job close to his heart. For 47 years, he was a history teacher to middle school and high school students. He eventually went on to teach adult education students, preparing them to pass their Adult Ed Certification exam. He additionally coached his eldest son in basketball, and even was his son’s teacher during his sixth grade year. 

“Having had two children and being involved with them and their schoolwork, that led me down a path. I was athletic and coaching was always on my mind,” David said. “In my mind, coaching and teaching went hand in hand. My favorite year in all 47 years of teaching was when I taught my son Eric. He called me Dad and the kids were really cool with that.”

Schafer’s career path was also very accomplished. While he worked as a bartender, he also was able to travel the world. While he grew up in St. Louis, MO, he has also lived in Cape Cod, MA, Aspen, CO, Lake Tahoe, CA and Mill Valley, CA. 

“I worked as a bartender for 40 years. I went to a year of college, [but] I was never much of a student. I left St. Louis when I was about 21,” Schafer said. “I worked on Cape Cod for a couple of summers, which started my traveling journeys. I went down to Florida for the winter, returned to the Cape [after that] and met some skiers from New England. They said, ‘Let’s go to Aspen!’ and I was totally game. When I moved to Aspen, there was one dirt road in town. I lived there for seven years, then moved to Lake Tahoe where I met my wife. Then, I moved to Marin County, my favorite place, and I’ve been here for 50 years.” 

Schafer is hopeful towards the future, and has some positive wishes towards the younger generation. 

“I hope that [people] can start getting along better in this country and all over the world. I hope people can be a little more tolerant of each other. Right now it’s not that way at all,” Schafer said. “Just enjoy life. That’s as good as one can do.”


For more background on the citiziens featured in this story, please refer to this Adobe Spark.

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About the Contributor
Elsa Block
Elsa Block, Senior Staff Writer
Elsa Block is a senior at Redwood High School and a senior staff writer for the Bark. She enjoys spending time with friends and family, spending time outdoors, traveling and watching the sunset.