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Bridging the gap

PLATTSBURGH Who would have thought thered be a connection between teens and nursing home residents?

Well, students enrolled in the Life Skills program at Saranac Central and several Meadowbrook Healthcare residents have certainly found plenty to talk about.

They have connected like a grandparent to a grandchild, said Brenda Fittin, who teaches the program at Saranac.

Fittin said there are about 10 students that have befriended the residents, conversing via letters about such things as gardening, music, dancing, literature and cars and all-terrain vehicles.

As a longtime English teacher I have never seen students so eager to do a writing project, she said.

They would race to the computers as soon as they came in (to the classroom).

They are great letters, said Carol LaPier of the Meadowbrook Activities department.

LaPier said she helps read the residents their letters, then helps them write back to the students.

Penning since October, the two groups finally met just a few weeks ago.

The residents were delighted when each was presented with a fully bloomed Geranium and young friendly smiles.

Wesley LaPoint had challenged his pal, Ben Chenevert to a game of checkers only to find that his elderly friend was no match for him, losing two-zero.

LaPoint said the two enjoyed writing to each other about movies and jobs.

Meanwhile, Harry Garrant joked that he wanted to marry his pen pal, Tammy Gardner, and if there ever were a wedding hed no doubt have fried bread dough and popcorn on the menu.

Gardner, who is also a volunteer with the activity department through a Champlain Valley Educational Services program, said she loves working with residents.

Shes found her niche, said LaPier.

Ethel Sandberg has taught her young friend Michael Parent about a dance called the Jitterbug something hed never heard of before as his pen pal shared memories of her younger years frequenting the local dance hall.

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