A natural bond sprouts into a growing friendship for The Benevolent Society program

New heights of friendship: Dominic Kumar, 14, and Rose Van Der Sloot, 73, formed a friendship through The Benevolent Society. Picture: Chris Lane
New heights of friendship: Dominic Kumar, 14, and Rose Van Der Sloot, 73, formed a friendship through The Benevolent Society. Picture: Chris Lane

An unlikely friendship between a woman, 73, and a teenage boy, 14, has developed all in the humble home of a beachside residence at Kurnell.

The match is the result of a program run by The Benevolent Society called Grandparent Connection.

It a mentorship program that pairs older Australians with teens in order for the two parties to learn and connect with each other in a way that's meaningful and to the benefit of them both.

Rose Van Der Sloot cares for her husband who has dementia. She decided to join the program to form similar ties with others.

"I love to help others - particularly those who are also carers," she said. "I believe in the potential of young people."

Dominic Kumar helps to care for his brother who has special needs. He had a hunger for wisdom, as someone in a similar situation as his as a carer.

"While I do have regular contact with older people, I'd never developed a friendship with anyone of grandparent age, and that's why I joined the program," he said.

Together, they enjoy outings and mutual enjoyable activities. Even after the program ended for Mrs Van Der Sloot and Dominic, they have remained friends and still to this day spend time with each other's families.

Interestingly, Dominic and Mrs Van De Sloot are also the tallest and shortest participants of the program.

The Benevolent Society launched the program last year and there are plans for a second-round version of it to continue soon.

The Morrison government recently announced in its budget that carers would also receive an extra $84 million.

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