Bridging the generation gap


Borough youth on board to help seniors

Naugatuck Mayor N. Warren ‘Pete’ Hess, left, swears in Dean Andrade, 17, as a member of the Commission for the Elderly June 7 at Town Hall. –LUKE MARSHALL
Naugatuck Mayor N. Warren ‘Pete’ Hess, left, swears in Dean Andrade, 17, as a member of the Commission for the Elderly June 7 at Town Hall. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — For one borough resident, age does not preclude service to his community.

Dean Andrade, 17, was sworn in June 7 as a member of the Commission for the Elderly, making him the youngest member on the commission.

Andrade, who graduated this week from Emmett O’Brien Technical High School in Ansonia, has been volunteering at the Naugatuck Senior Center since last summer. He views joining the Elderly Commission as a way to continue helping seniors and give back to the borough. His first meeting is July 25.

“I want to provide additional services more efficiently to the seniors. Senior citizens are often heard speaking of the issues they face and it’s tough times,” Andrade said. “Hopefully we can change it little by little in Naugatuck and fix the situations for senior citizens. I would like to be part of that change.”

Andrade first started volunteering out of a desire to get involved.

“I really wanted to get involved as much as I could in the town of Naugatuck since I had just been appointed National Honor Society president of my school. I figured that was somewhere I wanted to spend as much time as I could. I hadn’t done so much of it prior so I figured anything I could get would be a good experience. It just so happened Naugatuck Senior Center was available and I thought it would be an interesting experience,” Andrade said.

Senior center Director Harvey Frydman and the seniors welcomed him with open arms, Andrade said.

“I wouldn’t have stayed there if it hadn’t been for the great people I found there. Honestly it has been life-changing,” Andrade said.

Frydman said the seniors enjoy having Andrade around.

“We saw his interest in our older adults and he has been welcomed as their favorite grandson,” Frydman said.

Andrade said most of his work at the senior center consists of administrative tasks.

“That right there was a huge learning experience last year,” Andrade said. “Administrating a municipal office really gives you an insight into how the town is run and who runs the town.”

In addition to volunteering at the senior center, Andrade serves as one of the “key youth leaders” at Naugatuck Youth Services.

“He started coming here because he had been volunteering at the senior center and Harvey told him he should also be spending time with people his own age,” Naugatuck Youth Services Director Kristin Mabrouk said. “We had an opportunity to go to a youth leadership conference last summer. And he hasn’t left yet.”

Mabrouk said Andrade helped with candidate forums leading up to the municipal election in the fall, and recently spoke on a panel about youth-led social change at the state capital.

“I think that he is a role model for other youth,” Mabrouk said.

Andrade plans to attend Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport. He said he doesn’t have a lot of free time to volunteer, but he has a passion to make his community a better place.

“I don’t believe the ones that volunteer the most possess the most time. It is the ones that have the most passion. I’d like them to find a certain activity, a certain task, a certain role they find genuine passion in and strive to go to great lengths for not only one but others,” Andrade said.

Although he has a lot going, Andrade said he would like to remain involved in community service.

“A lot of people have suggested taking the burgess role into consideration for the future and this might be a great way to start that,” Andrade said.