Bringing Together the Whole Family with The Catalyst Schools & Mather

By Kate Paz, Director of Programs Without Walls at Mather

Here at Mather, our mission is to create ways for people to age well. This mission is deeply aligned with the mission of our partner, The Catalyst Schools, which is “to holistically educate the young men and women entrusted to its care by a school community committed to teaching minds and touching hearts.” Because of this, our organizational partnership has felt natural from the beginning.

At Mather, like at Catalyst, we focus on the language that we use to interact with each other and the people who work with us. We work with people who are aging, who some might say are in  “retirement age.” But we call it “repriorment age,” because the people that we serve are not withdrawing from society and ending their productive lives, like the word “retirement” entails. We know that once folks stop working, they simply have new priorities. At Catalyst, the children are not “students,” they’re “scholars.”

We create experiences for people who are aging. Our partnerships really help us to do this because our partners and their locations are the ones that create experiences. Catalyst is a school. They focus on the young. But those children have family members of all ages who care for them. No one is giving those older adults support, so we do that! We offer monthly luncheons where people age 50 and better can come together to share a meal. They share a few hours of their day to enjoy each other in a safe place that is familiar to them. We want to show them that they, too, have an important place at the school and in the lives of their children. They are welcome.

These monthly lunches usually have about 100 people in attendance. We had trouble figuring out where to fit everyone at first. We wanted to use Catalyst’s Kehrein Center for the Arts, a beautiful and welcoming space, but it’s a little odd for folks to sit in the auditorium chairs to eat and socialize. So, we set up tables for lunch backstage. Participants enter, have conversation, eat their lunches, participate in prize drawings, and enjoy live entertainment.

We also have a designated space at Catalyst where older adults can hang out after they drop off the children. We’re excited to say that in the future, this space will also house help with Medicare, technology, and yoga.

Catalyst is such a warm and welcoming partner – they really believe that in order for the scholars to thrive, they need the support of their community. Families need support too. If we don’t take care of who is taking care of the children, they’ll never thrive. Partners just further support the schools.