Scouts and seniors bond over some tea

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Friday, October 16, 2015 5:23 pm EDT

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Semi Valley Acorn

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The members of four local Girl Scout troops learned about compassion and the value of connecting with the older generation during a special tea party they held for seniors last weekend in Simi Valley.

The Harvest Tea Party at the Sunrise at Wood Ranch senior living community featured homemade treats, games and crafts. It was orchestrated by 33 girls from Brownie Troops 60839 and 61550, Junior Troop 60225 and Cadet Troop 60927. The girls, all from Simi Valley, range from second- to seventh-graders.

“We try to give back to the community in different ways and the girls chose this place. This is one of their favorite places to come,” said Wendy Diaz, a troop leader and one of several moms who watched the girls in action as they mingled with seniors Oct. 11.

Each troop spent about $40 from their Girl Scout cookie sales on ingredients for the snacks and tea they served.

The girls made all the treats themselves, including chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin squares and sugar-free apple bars. They also made three kinds of sandwiches: ham and cheese, tuna and cucumber.

In keeping with the harvest theme, the girls made party favors out of lollipops wrapped in white napkins to look like ghosts. They also made placemats out of construction paper decorated with autumn leaves.

Making connections

The tea party took place in two rooms. The younger girls, ages 7 to 9, remained in the downstairs room with seniors who have little memory impairment. The older girls, ages 10 to 12, spent time in a room upstairs for seniors with advanced stages of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

“The reason why we chose the older girls to go upstairs is because they’re much more mature and they can handle being around the elderly with dementia so advanced,” Diaz said. “The downstairs group is more active with normal signs of aging, so we thought this group would be a perfect connection for the younger ones.”

Upstairs, 12-year-old Ashley Archer painted a hibiscus flower on an apron for 84-year-old Trudy Smith. The Scout also painted Smith’s name as the senior watched and sipped tea.

“This is something she can wear while doing arts and crafts or when she’s cooking,” Ashley said.

During the craft activity, Ashley learned Smith is from Germany, that her favorite color is blue and she still knows how to speak German.

“They’re always around people their age. and it’s fun to interact with different ages,” Ashley said of her visit with Smith. “I hope I can show her that we’re always willing to come and hang out with them and talk to them.”

Smith said she doesn’t intend to wear the apron.

“(Ashley’s) a very talented lady; she’s made it so nice,” the woman said. “I’ll just save it. I won’t use it and make it dirty. I’ll hang it up in my apartment so I can see it.”

Ashley’s mom, Jenni, said it’s important for the younger generation to know their worth to others in the community, especially when it comes to connecting with the elderly.

“At the same time, while (the kids are) learning this valuable lesson, the elderly can in turn really get some joy and feel their youthful energy,” Archer said. “They don’t get out as much as they used to, so it’s nice for them to see new faces and have new experiences because it still stimulates their brains.”

Girl Scout Severine Holmes, 10, was engaged in a craft that involved making the face of a scarecrow on a paper plate with colorful, flat foam cutouts.

“I hope to make (the seniors) feel happy,” she said. “It’s important to me because I want to make people happy because I don’t like seeing people sad.”

Amelia Cookson, also 10, painted a white flower on a 5-by-5-inch block of wood she intended to give a senior at the tea party.

“Today I learned that they’re all so kind and very helpful and they’re really fun to be around,” she said. “They might not remember a lot, so if they ask you a lot of questions, it’s fine.”

Bonding time

Downstairs, the younger girls played Bingo with the guests and served them tea, cookies and sandwiches.

“I want to make them happy so they can be healthy and stay alive for a long time,” 7-year-old Lauren Zulanas said of the seniors.

Susan Giller, mother of 10-year-old Ava, another Scout, said interacting with the older generation is an important experience for the girls because it helps them practice for when their own grandparents get older.

“It’s a learning experience for the girls to be able to communicate not only with their peers but all kinds of adults,” she said.

Gloria DeAngelis, 84, said the tea party was particularly special because she was a former Girl Scout and Girl Scout leader in Lakewood, Ohio.

“It’s wonderful; it’s just marvelous,” DeAngelis said. “I’m glad this institution is still going strong because it’s a wonderful thing.”

DeAngelis has five daughters who were all Girl Scouts.

“Scouting keeps you on the straight and narrow a little bit,” she said. “It keeps you busy and out of mischief if you’re little or even if you’re bigger.”

Mary Anna Pappas, 79, said the Scout-led effort was wonderful.

“It’s actually an inspiration,” she said. “Today, a lot of kids are unruly. They don’t care. They have no respect for their parents. So this is great.” 

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