Help Wanted

Posted January 24, 2023

Help Wanted
By Amanda Janquart

Building bridges between the preschoolers and the senior residents happens in a myriad of ways. Children act out storybook plays, build sugar cube castles, shake percussion instruments while singing, play seasonal BINGO, and decorate Valentine’s cookies alongside seniors who meet them in the community room at the scheduled times. Or senior readers will make their way into the classrooms, young ones already gathered on the rug in anticipation to listen to a book or learn about Grandpa Dick’s ostrich egg.

My favorite bridges though, are the unexpected and spontaneous ones: popping upstairs to hand out meringue cookies, dressing up as doctors to check seniors’ hearts, plastering stickers on whoever we bump into. We’ve surprised grandmas and grandpas while they were in exercise class and helped put away their hand weights. And although preschoolers in the past have grabbed their lunchboxes to join the “men’s table” for lunch, children have never before been invited to do so by the chef – all of them, at the same time!

Chef Cory is new to Inver Glen, and he already understands the value in connecting the generations. Wanting to bring smiles to his diners, he reached out to the teachers with an idea. Would the children come and “work” for him, help out during lunch? There was no question as to their interest! Cory provided name tags, signifying the importance of being a staff member. Preschoolers listened closely to the procedures from their “boss” as he pointed out the cart where the menus are collected and demonstrated how to ask seniors if they needed something.

Then it was go-time. Children flocked to the diners, patiently waiting for them to circle their lunch choices on their menus. Some children called over a teacher to read the menu out loud for seniors with poor vision. They carefully delivered ice water and fruit cups. Preschoolers stood tall and spoke clearly, earnestly wanting to do a good job. When the first courses were all passed out, it was time for the children’s own lunch break. They found their lunch boxes and took seats where Cory had set aside a group of tables. “Whoa, this is like eating in a restaurant.” “Yeah, but a fancy one with chandeliers!” While they ate, the conversation was all about their first day of being servers. “I knew I had to hold the cup with both hands.” “I helped Grandpa Charlie get water.” “Grandma Lucy picked fruit. I like fruit too.”

Cory returned from the kitchen to thank everyone and let them know the diners were very pleased with their work. While he couldn’t pay them real money, he did happen to have a box of ice cream bars to share!