Heyman Interages® Center

Our intergenerational programs have served the community for 30 years.

The JCA Heyman Interages® Center intergenerational programs have brought children and older adults together for 30 years. Since 1986, approximately 45,000 children and older adults in more than 100 schools and senior facilities have benefited from participation in our programs. Over the years hundreds of dedicated and caring older adult volunteers, who are the heart of Interages, have made a significant difference in the lives of children.

View a list of our current programs and volunteer opportunities.

What are the benefits of generations working together?

Children exposed to positive adult role models learn from the knowledge and experience their elders have to offer. Stereotypes and fears about youth and aging are dispelled when both generations communicate and work together. Sharing personal histories and life experience improves understanding across generations. Children learn and experience compassion and the value of community service.

Direct involvement with children helps older adults stay active and connected to their community, and provides opportunities for them to live more productive, happier lives. Older adult volunteers develop friendships with children and other volunteers that may reduce a sense of loss or isolation. Involvement in meaningful work increases each participant’s sense of personal fulfillment and self-worth.

Download our brochure.

Download our 2017 program report.

Apply to volunteer.

Heyman Interages Center volunteers are living proof that concerned citizens can change the world. Each year, our dedicated volunteers share their skills and friendship with students across Montgomery County to help them succeed in school and life.

In just 1-2 hours per week, our volunteers:

  • Build a student’s self-confidence
  • Help ESOL students improve their English skills and adjust to life in the U.S.
  • Boost a second grade child’s reading skills
  • Share their life experiences with high school students
  • Engage in cross-cultural activities
  • Enjoy children’s books with Pre-K/Head Start students
  • Tutor elementary students in Math
  • Provide a listening ear to students in need

The Benefits of Volunteering

We know that when it comes to volunteering, there are a lot of great opportunities out there. We truly value our volunteers’ time and efforts and feel these are just a few reasons why it’s great to be an Interages volunteer:

  • Volunteer training offered twice a year
  • Easy-to-use curriculum
  • On-site program coordinators
  • Variety of program locations — from Takoma Park to Germantown!
  • Flexible schedule: short-term, weekly and substitute positions available
  • End-of-year appreciation event to thank you for your efforts

Although volunteers donate their time and talents to improve the lives of people in need, the time they spend volunteering also positively impacts their own lives. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, volunteers age 60 or older receive greater health benefits from volunteering than younger volunteers. These benefits include:

  • Increased personal sense of purpose and accomplishment
  • Higher levels of happiness, self-esteem, and a sense of control over life
  • Enhanced social networks to buffer stress and reduce disease risk
  • Greater functional ability and better health outcomes later in life

In Their Own Words

Each year, our volunteers tell us how much they enjoy participating in our programs. We also get great feedback from the teachers and students who receive help from our volunteers. Here are some examples of what they say:

Interested in Volunteering with Interages?

Now is the time to share your wisdom and life experience with a child. You’ll be glad you did!

Motivate Students to Read

Cultural Competence

Connect With Your Student

Find additional intergenerational resources by following Interages on Pinterest!

Dialogues Across The Ages engages volunteers and high school students in cross-age discussions of current events and social studies topics. Two generations learn about each other’s interests, lifestyles, and views during these 8-week-long sessions designed to foster mutual understanding and respect while developing student leadership skills.

Grandreaders promoted literacy among elementary school children. Volunteers work one-on-one with 2nd graders to increase reading skills, foster a love of reading and develop a meaningful intergenerational connection. Read Aloud fosters school readiness and an enjoyment of books for pre-kindergarten and Head Start children. Volunteers read to small groups of students and support activities occurring in the classroom. We also host a Summer Grandreaders Program at area libraries.

Intergenerational Bridges builds relationships between older adult volunteers and at-risk immigrant students through a weekly in-school or after school mentoring program in elementary, middle and high schools. Student outcomes include improved English communication and language skills, strengthened academic success strategies, enhanced transition to life in the United States, and increased self-confidence.

Math Club provides classroom math support to 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students at Rolling Terrace Elementary School.

Mature Mentors matches volunteers one-on-one with high school students enrolled in the special education program at Churchill High School. Volunteers meet weekly with their students to offer academic support and help students connect with resources needed to achieve success personally and academically.

Reading and Educating to Advance Lives (REAL) connects volunteers with children and their parents through literacy and health activities in Department of Health and Human Services waiting rooms. Volunteers read, talk about shapes/letters/numbers/colors, talk about healthy foods, draw and color, do activity sheets, etc. with children who are present. Volunteers also offer free books for children to take home with them. Sites in Germantown, Rockville, and Silver Spring.

Willo-for-Web (2)SHARE (Students Help and Reach Elders) enriches the lives of adult residents in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities by linking them with school groups (from pre-school through high school) for friendship and interactive fun activities. Makeover Madness brings adults from senior facilities to the Thomas Edison High School of Technology and Gaithersburg High School for cosmetic services and friendly conversation with students.

Intergenerational Resource Center (IRC) provides technical assistance to individuals and organizations interested in developing intergenerational programming in the community. IRC meetings are held throughout the year and an e-newsletter featuring ideas and trends in intergenerational programming is distributed on a regular basis.

Interages At A Glance offers an overview of our programs and partners as well as highlights of recent achievements.

The JCA Heyman Interages Center bridges the intergenerational gap in the Greater Washington Area and is one of the leaders in the intergenerational movement regionally and nationally. Our mission is to create a more age-integrated community by promoting improved communication, understanding, and quality of life for older adults and youth.

Interages serves the community by championing mutually beneficial volunteer opportunities for older adults and youth to interact and learn from one another while fostering respect between generations and appreciation of diversity. In addition, Interages:

  • Models effective intergenerational programs
  • Disseminates information and provides training and technical assistance
  • Facilitates communication among entities with an intergenerational interests

Over the years, Interages has received numerous awards for our intergenerational work, including the following:

  • Program of Distinction by Generations United
  • Best Small Charities of Greater Washington by the Catalogue for Philanthropy
  • Award of Excellence in Older Volunteer Program Management by the MetLife Foundation and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a)
  • Award for Distinguished Service to Public Education by the Montgomery County Board of Education
  • Mentoring Program of the Year by the Maryland Governor

Why Intergenerational Programs Matter

The population is changing. By 2030, there will be more people over age 65 than under age 14. This will affect every aspect of our lives — from education and health care to jobs and families. To address these challenges effectively, we must educate all citizens about aging — starting with our youngest — and starting now.

However, modern society has become age-segregated — increasingly children spend time with other children, adults work outside the home with people primarily their own age, and seniors spend time in seniors-only communities, residences and social centers. This lack of intergenerational contact allows each generation to perceive itself as separate and isolated rather than an integral part of the larger community. Often, this segregation creates misunderstanding, unfair stereotypes, and a reduced quality of communal life for all.

Our programs benefit the community by:

  • Recognizing and utilizing the talents of citizens of all ages
  • Erasing stereotypes which keep age groups separate
  • Encouraging each generation to learn and benefit from each other, enriching all in the process


Austin Heyman had the insight to see the importance of bringing the generations together and in 1986 he founded Interages and served as the Executive Director until 1997. In 1986, in order to improve county efforts to establish intergenerational programs, the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services and the Board of Education joined in a partnership to help fund the Montgomery County Intergenerational Resource Center. Interages successfully competed for the contract to operate the center.

In 1987, Interages developed the award-winning intergenerational childcare project, Grandcare. The project recruited, oriented, and placed older adults in licensed childcare centers in Montgomery County. The project was presented at a number of national conferences and received major corporate support from IBM, AT&T and Bell Atlantic, as well as support from the State of Maryland. The project was implemented for nine years and placed more than 150 adults in over 35 child-care centers.

In 1989, the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services encouraged Interages to focus its work especially with needy and disadvantaged populations. In 1990, Interages created the Intergenerational Bridges mentoring project focusing on impoverished, at-risk, immigrant youngsters. The project was presented at several conferences and was named the “Mentoring Program of the Year” by the Governor of Maryland in 1997. The Points of Light Foundation recognized Bridges as a “Daily Point of Light” in 2000.

Over the years, Interages created several intergenerational programs including: the Family, the Courts, and the Constitution; Shared Rights; Dialogues Across the Ages; Televisit, Self-Esteem Through Service; Newcomers; Grandcrafters; Project SHARE; and Global Wizards. Interages also received a grant for four years to run the Across Ages Model Intergenerational Program developed by Temple University.

Over the last 30 years, Interages programs have involved more than 35,000 children and older adults in more than 100 schools and senior facilities. Interages has worked very hard to develop and implement relevant intergenerational programs that meet community needs. As the years have progressed some programs have run their natural course and concluded and some continue to this day. The Intergenerational Bridges, Project SHARE and Dialogues Across the Ages programs are still active today. Programs implemented over the last decade that are part of the solid base of Interages intergenerational programs include: Grandreaders, Read-Aloud, Intergenerational Bridges, SHARE, Makeover Madness, WoW, Mature Mentors and Math Club. In 2011, Interages celebrated 25 years of service to Montgomery County residents as the leader in intergenerational programming.

WUSA Channel 9 featured Intergenerational Bridges on its Friday’s Heroes Program. Watch the video. Watch the short video below for an overview of Interages programs and how our volunteers make a difference.

On March 13, 2015, Interages held a volunteer training session, How to Increase Your Volunteer Impact. In this short video, Nora Dietz, principal at Daly Elementary in Germantown, kicks off the session by talking about how important community partnerships are to her school community. She emphasizes that she and her staff “can’t do it alone” and that the one-on-one relationship our Intergenerational Bridges mentors provide to her students helps to improve their attendance, reading and self-esteem.

Leah Bradley, current Assistant Director of Interages co-authored an article, Using Technology to Connect Generations: Some Considerations of Form and Function. This article was published in Comunicar, a peer-reviewed scientific, bilingual Spanish and English journal with Chinese abstracts. Now in its 22nd year, this media education research journal has published 1,638 research and studies articles. The article was selected via a rigorous and transparent blind reviewing system of manuscripts that utilizes an international, scientific editorial board of 372 reviewers from 28 countries.

The Southern Gerontological Society featured an article by Interages’ Assistant Director entitled “Engaging a Generation to Respond to the Needs of a Changing Community”, which highlights the positive impact Intergenerational Bridges mentors have on Montgomery County Public Schools students enrolled in the English for Speakers of Other Languages program. Read the full article on page 5 of The Southern Gerontologist.

The MetLife Foundation and Generations United honored Montgomery County with the 2013 Best Intergenerational Communities Award. Read the full report to learn how Montgomery County has excelled at honoring diversity and engaging the generations.

Generations United recognized the JCA Heyman Interages Center with the prestigious “Program of Distinction” award. Read the full press release.

Interages volunteer Michael Rothschild and Assistant Director Tricia Wilson interviewed on Make a Difference. Watch the video.

WUSA Channel 9 featured Intergenerational Bridges on its Friday’s Heroes Program. Watch the video.

Intergenerational Bridges volunteer Izzy Kovach and her student Pedro interviewed on Seniors Today. Watch the video.

Mary Ann Larkin, Intergenerational Bridges program coordinator, interviewed on MCPSTV program Take 10. Watch the video.

The Beacon Newspaper highlights Interages programs and volunteer opportunities. Read the article.

Intergenerational Bridges participants from Arcola Towers and Northwood High School win 3rd place in the Rachel Carson Sense of Wonder contest, sponsored by the EPA. Watch their video, I Come From.

Generations United features Interages and its founder, Austin Heyman, in its newsletter. Read the article and see page 27, Applause and Accolades.

The Gazette Newspaper spotlights the Grandreaders program. Read the article.

The Gazette Newspaper features Makeover Madness program. Read the article.

Learn More

Intergenerational programs are defined as planned activities and experiences designed to bring generations together for their mutual benefit. These activities and experiences must be ongoing and systematic; must continue for an extended period of time at regular intervals; and must benefit all program participants – the young, older persons, and staff. To learn more, click on one of the following links below.

Nonprofits and Other Organizations

  • Bessie’s Hope — Enhances the quality of life for nursing home and assisted living elders by bringing the generations together in mutually rewarding relationships.
  • Centre For Intergenerational Practice (CIP) — CIP aims to support the development and promotion of intergenerational practice as a catalyst for social change.
  • Garden Mosaics connects youth and elders to investigate the mosaic of plants, people, and cultures in gardens.
  • Generations of Hope is a nonprofit organization that works to enhance and extend the lives of vulnerable populations by tapping the transformative power of intergenerational community living.
  • Generations United seeks to improve the lives of children, youth, and older people through intergenerational collaboration, public policies, and programs for the enduring benefit for all.
  • Hawaii Intergenerational Network strives for intergenerational equity through education, service opportunities, and advocacy.
  • Illinois Intergenerational Initiative’s mission is to build an infrastructure of intergenerational involvement that taps the skills and leadership of retirees and students to improve education.
  • Journal Of Intergenerational Relationships – Stay abreast of new practice methods, research and public policy initiatives with the only journal focused exclusively on intergenerational concepts and issues.
  • Kansas Intergenerational Network provides an intergenerational cookbook full of activities for older adults and students to do together.

University Programs

  • Adult Health and Development Program — University of Maryland
    A service-learning intergenerational health promotion program that pairs students to work on a one-to-one basis with older adults.
  • The Intergenerational Center — Temple University
    Wide range of intergenerational programs designed to meet the needs of children and youth, older adults, and families.
  • Generations Together — University of Pittsburgh
    An Intergenerational studies Program
  • Grandparents University — Wisconsin Alumni Association
    Award-winning two-day workshop is a chance for children and their grandparents to come together and learn from each other in a dynamic atmosphere at the UW campus.
  • Intergenerational Urban Institute — Worcester State College
    Harness the combined talents of college students of all ages to meet the challenges that face our urban environment.
  • Intergenerational Programs & Aging — Penn State Univerisity
    Focuses on educational programs and practices that strengthen intergenerational relationships and competencies in children, youth, older adults, and families.