by Dale Reeves
Intergenerational friends. Elderly friends. Toddlers. Memory care residents. Babies. Caregivers. Moms, grandmas, and grandpas. They gather every Thursday morning from 10:15–10:45 am at The Christian Village at Mason (https://christianvillages.org/lifestyle-mason/). They are all here to listen to Miss Marsha as she reads children’s books accompanied by her puppet friend Scruffy the dog. They begin every week by singing . . .
“The more we get together, together, together,
The more we get together the happier we’ll be.
’Cause your friends are my friends,
And my friends are your friends.
The more we get together the happier we’ll be.”
They sing, they dance, they clap, they jump, they smile, they laugh, they run around playing with bubbles, and sometimes the toddlers collide with one another. Then the littles go around the room and greet the older saints. They hug, they high-five, they fist bump, they sit on laps and spread the love all around. What a beautiful day in the neighborhood it truly is.
Oaks and Acorns
Marsha Collins calls this story time “Oaks and Acorns.” She began this weekly event in January 2019 in order to enrich the lives of the residents of the Christian Village (the Oaks) and the little guests (the Acorns). Marsha says, “I love seeing relationships grow as children engage with residents with smiles and laughs each week.” A former director of Mason Christian Preschool, a ministry of Christ’s Church, Marsha was inspired by the documentary “The Growing Season,” which followed the experiences of placing a preschool/daycare within an assisted living/nursing care facility in Seattle, Washington (http://www.thegrowingseasonfilm.com). Marsha reflects, “The benefits to both residents and families were great and I found myself wondering if this same ‘lifestyle’ could be offered here in my area! I felt God spurring my desire to encourage relationship between the young in our community and the residents at the Christian Village at Mason.”
Marsha continues, “I hope that by having these families attend story time, they will build relationship with the residents and see how their little ones spread joy, laughter, and love. Many studies show that isolation and a sedentary lifestyle can lead to depression, sadness, and even hopelessness. I watch every week as residents clap, laugh, and sing along with these children knowing this is good for their soul!”
We Love It!
Every Thursday morning the elderly and youthful friends sing together while performing hand motions to the words,
“We’re havin’ a good time. Yeah! We’re havin’ a good time.
And I know and I know and I know, I know,
I know that Jesus loves me so!
Yeah! We’re havin’ a good time.”
One of the residents, Ed Wilson, says, “I love kids and I love to see them together like this. I think they’re absolutely fascinating. I love it when they climb up and sit on my wheelchair. My driving mechanism has a golf ball on top of it and the little boys are totally into pushing the buttons and driving the wheelchair.”
Ruth Millisor, another resident of the Village, says, “I taught school for thirty years, so I come to this because I love kids.”
Resident Jinnie Helm comments, “I love children. They are so sweet—every one of them. I have two grown children but no grandchildren, so I have to come and enjoy these children, and I really do. They are so cute!”
Grandmas and grandpas love bringing their grandchildren to Oaks and Acorns. My wife and I look forward every week to taking our two-year-old grandson Luke to the Village on Thursday. He goes home singing the songs to his parents and telling them about the theme of the week. Themes like pumpkins, squirrels and owls, pigs, dogs, butterflies, leaves changing, apples, bugs, and dinosaurs. Our daughter Courtney Deller loves how Luke has learned to interact with older people. Several weeks ago Courtney and her family visited her husband’s grandma in a retirement community, and when they visited her, Courtney says, “Luke was excited to see the residents and was so comfortable with them. He wanted to climb up on their laps, give hugs, and spread the love. This is a direct result of Luke interacting with older adults at Oaks and Acorns.”
Another grandma, Glenda Hain, says, “I bring Elaine because I love to hear the Christian songs they learn. She goes to two other places in the week and she learns other songs, but here she learns some wonderful songs about Jesus.”
Tracy Wolcott, director of activities of The Christian Village at Mason, explains what she appreciates the most about Oaks and Acorns: “I love to see the interaction of our residents with the children. They are so engaged in what is going on. You can see the joy on their faces, even the ones who may be more nonverbal—including some of our memory care residents. On a weekly basis, we have about sixteen or eighteen residents come to the event, and it is wonderful thing.”
The More We Get Together
Marsha Collins concludes, “I hope that the children and their parents become more aware of the joy they can share along with respectful relationship with our older generation. Since we have some residents who come just about every week, they know children’s names and are building relationships that benefit everyone involved!”
Unity in the midst of diversity. Building relationships. Breaking down stereotypes. Tearing down the walls of fear. Now that’s a message we all can benefit from, no matter how old or young we are!