There are few things more heartwarming than the connection between a young child and an elder. The special bond between grandparents and grandchildren is certainly a well-documented phenomenon and, beautifully, this bond can extend beyond the familial ties.
Briana Maxham, Director of Life Enrichment at Woodstock Terrace assisted living facility in Woodstock, reached out to Erin Klocek at the Woodstock Elementary School to start a pen pal program between the two organizations. It has been a match made in heaven for the past three years.
“We now have 27 residents participating this year,” exclaimed Briana. “That is over half of our population!”
The basic concept is that the Woodstock Terrace participants and 3rd and 4th graders are paired up early in the school year and then they write back and forth all year long. Towards the end of the school year, an event is planned for the kids and elders to get together and meet face-to-face.
“A lot of excitement is built up on both sides as they prepare to finally meet each other,” said Briana. “What makes this program so special is that some of the children choose to keep the relationship going even during summer break.”
Briana talked about a couple of youngsters who play instruments and performed a few times during the summer for their pen pal!
While this is special for all involved, it seems almost like a lifeline for those elders who don’t have grandchildren or family nearby and for those children who perhaps don’t have available grandparents.
“We have two residents in their 90s who love to create handmade cards and do so every single week for their pal,” said Briana.
What a lifelong gift of a lifetime!