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Valentine’s Day Helps Bridge the Gap Between Two Generations of CPDC Residents

By Ryan Barton, Stony Brook Resident Services Manager

EvelynValentine’s Day is a holiday typically known for expressions of love and kindness.  For two groups of senior residents, those sentiments came in the form of handmade cards created by youth at the Stony Brook Apartment community.

Over 30 youth residents from Stony Brook in Alexandria, VA, volunteered to make handmade Valentine’s cards for senior residents at Wiley H. Bates in Annapolis, MD, and The Overlook at Oxon Run in Washington, D.C.  Using nothing more than construction paper, stickers, and their creativity, the elementary-aged students produced over 100 cards for their senior counterparts.  The students’ messages ranged from well wishes of “have a wonderful day” to details of their favorite foods and school subjects.  On the back of each card was a photo of the student who made it, along with their name and school grade, giving each recipient a personal connection with the youth who created their card.

Among those who volunteered their time was third grader Ana Burka, who found the experience to be exciting.

“Making the cards was so much fun,” exclaimed Burka.  “I hope the people who get them love them!”

Fifth grader Kwajo Frimpong, a frequent youth volunteer in the Stony Brook community, said this project has been his favorite so far.

“I finished my homework as quickly as possible each day so I could make as many cards as I could,” said Frimpong.  “It was awesome.”

The senior residents at both Wiley H. Bates and The Overlook were enthusiastic about receiving the cards.  Overlook Resident Services Manager Katrina Polk said the senior volunteer delivery committee was very appreciative.

“The cards touched the Overlook community, homebound recipients, and senior volunteers alike,” said Polk said.

Wiley H. Bates Resident Services Manager Cate Sirko said the residents were thrilled to receive the cards.

“The kids were a hit!” said Sirko.  “I overheard two Bates residents telling each other about the youth that made their individual cards, what grade they were in, and how cute they were!”

Bates resident Jerry Allen went as far as sending a message to Jaysay Kear, the third grader who created his personal card.  The message read:  Stay in school and get a wonderful education.  Thanks a lot for your Valentine!  God bless you and your family!

Stony Brook Resident Services Manager Ryan Barton said he hoped the project would inspire more interaction between generations, as well as provide a chance for the youth volunteers to use their creativity to brighten someone else’s day.

“The youth here are always drawing and showing their creativity,” said Barton.  “I wanted them to use that creativity for a good cause.  When I talked to them about the idea, they started making cards out of their homework notebook paper!”

The exchange has inspired the seniors as well.  Several seniors indicated a desire to become pen pals with their youth and to join their younger counterparts for an activity this summer, providing a bridge between two generations of residents.

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