By Virginia Mungovan
Special to Independent Newsmedia
The City of Surprise has been selected as a National Finalist for the 2017 MetLife Foundation/Generations United America’s Best Intergenerational Communities Awards.
Since 2012, the awards program has recognized 24 innovative communities across America that are leading the way by incorporating intergenerational solutions that engage the wisdom and vitality of all generations.
“We congratulate City of Surprise on being the National Finalist. They show promising potential for becoming a place where members of every generation thrive and want to live,” notes Donna Butts, executive director of Generations United.
Surprise was recognized for its intergenerational workforce development partnerships that promote a greater sense of community while establishing and tapping into its current and future talent pool.
Those programs include:
• Surprise City Court Explorers Program – an interactive worksite-based career education program affiliated with the Boys Scouts of America that introduces high school students to career opportunities in the judicial and legal lines of work.
• Helping Partners Program – a vocational training program for adults with cognitive and developmental disabilities that is offered by nonprofits Benevilla and One Step Beyond in partnership with the city. The Benevilla Group Supported Employment (GSE) program is a vocational training program for adults with cognitive and developmental disabilities. This program provides volunteer, skills training and employment opportunities that enable members to contribute and make a difference in their communities. Many GSE workers are able to obtain special training and certifications, such as a food handler’s card, work in unique job opportunities and earn a paycheck.
• Summer Youth Employment Program – a summer jobs program for teens where they to receive professional development training through city internships; from shadowing a building inspector to working with seniors.
• Other programs and services include the Surprise Citizen Patrol, Surprise Community Pride Day, Crisis Response Team and the Block Party Trailer Program
The award entry also cited how volunteerism in the city engages all generations to share their time and talent to maintain and grow community vitality.
Volunteers assist police and fire-medical departments, beautify the community through clean up events, help raise money for college scholarships and more.
“MetLife Foundation understands the value of programs that encourage generations to work together for the benefit of the entire community,” said Dennis White, president and chief executive officer, MetLife Foundation. “Communities that care for and engage all members – regardless of age – deepen bonds between the generations and set an important example for other communities to follow. We applaud the community selected to receive the 2017 Best Intergenerational Communities Award, as well as the National Finalists.”
The winning community is Two Harbors, Minnesota. The other National Finalists are: Jenks Public Schools in Jenks, Oklahoma, and the Town of Yarmouth, Massachusetts.
A panel of judges selected the winning entries from among a host of applicants from across the country. Robert Blancato, former executive director of the White House Conference on Aging and a partner in Matz, Blancato & Associates, served as a judge in the selection process.
Mr. Blancato, who is also a strategic advisor for Generations United noted, said: “It is said you can live anywhere, but that does not make it a livable community. These awards signify that a critical component of a livable community is one that fosters an environment where generations live and work together.”
Presentation of this year’s awards will occur at the 2017 Global Intergenerational Conference June 14 in Milwaukee.
The Best Intergenerational Communities awards program is made possible with a grant from MetLife Foundation.
Editor’s note: Virginia Mungovan is a public information officer for the city of Surprise