Generations meet for breakfast

Courtesy photo

Generations meet for breakfast


WEST SAYVILLE—Senior citizens from the local community as well as some residents from The Arbors Assisted Living facility in Bohemia were treated to a holiday breakfast last week that was hosted by fifth-graders at the Cherry Avenue Elementary School in West Sayville. Visitors got more from the day than a nice morning meal, though.

Lisa Ihne, the school’s principal, said the event was a cooperative effort between the school and Eastern Suffolk BOCES, whose culinary students prepared and served the meal. She said it was a valuable experience for all students.

“This is a really great way for the kids to get to meet and mingle with seniors,” she noted.

And the seniors couldn’t agree more. Dot Lamens, a resident of the area, said, “It was so wonderful to see the young people,” and that their smiles and enthusiasm were very appreciated.

Butzy Van Wyen said she knew many of the kids at the school, including the little girl who sat next to her that day. “I knew her since she was born,” she remarked.

So many who were there had similar experiences, which is not unusual in a small, close-knit community that garners longtime residents. 

Bill Paauwe said he’s lived in the hamlet all his life, and in fact, was born right on Cherry Avenue. “I went to a four-room school,” he said, noting that the Tyler Avenue School he attended no longer exists. 

As the older generation shared stories about their time in school, the kids learned a bit about life in the hamlet before them.

“I like talking with older people,” said Lucy Livingston, 10. “They have nice stories.”

“I love hearing their stories,” added Charles Duplessis, who is also 10. “They deserve  [to be heard] because they’ve been through a lot,” he added.

Gladys Bischoff, a resident of The Arbors, said she felt very grateful for the opportunity to spend time with the kids. “They are so endearing,” she added.

Bischoff and some of her fellow residents who attended the breakfast also take part in a “Grand-Friends” program through The Arbors that links residents to kids from local schools.

“It means so much to [the residents],” said Alice Figueroa, recreation director at The Arbors. “Some don’t have families, and so they just light up when they go to the schools.” 

Paauwe said that being able to share time with a different generation is an important step in learning to understand one another. “It’s a shame more people don’t come to [this event],” he said.

Doreen Rizzo, a 56-year resident of the hamlet and a former mail carrier, agreed. She said aside from learning from one another, being with the kids “helps keep you young.”