Becky Dinello serves as the Resident Life Coordinator at Windsor Run. This year, she led an intergenerational project that brought residents from Windsor Run together with fourth graders from St. Gabriel School in Charlotte. A "school-year's" worth of fun, inspiration and friendship culminated on May 23 as the students made a special presentation to our residents.
Becky recently spoke about the project.
How did the partnership with St. Gabriel begin?
Becky: It started last September as I was invited to the school to introduce myself and the community of Windsor Run to a fresh group of 9 & 10 year-old fourth graders. We shared insights on what it's like to get older…or what they think it's like. We read a book called "The Grannyman" by Judith Byron Schachner, and realized how young, vibrant students can learn from and, in turn, bring purpose and joy to those a 'bit' older. During their first visit to Windsor Run in October, they sang their favorite songs in Halloween-themed costumes, followed by a second visit in December filled with Christmas songs and hymns.
The students were tasked with writing a book about residents from Windsor Run. Describe the process behind the assignment.
Becky: In February and March, the intrepid student reporters returned in small groups to interview residents, or their "grandbuddies", who joyfully signed up for the project. What a fun experience as each group of 4-5 students eagerly listened and took notes as our residents shared their life stories and hard-earned wisdom. The students took the interview answers back to work in class to create a biography of their grandbuddies throughout April and May.
What was it like when the students delivered their books?
Becky: It was amazing! The students returned with their masterpieces (26 in total) and presented them to our residents. They even took turns to read their stories in person.
The books are simply beautiful in every way. They did not disappoint, and even family members came to be a part of this special event. Each hard-cover book is carefully hand-made with a table of contents, group photo, hand-drawn pictures of the residents, their favorite memories and even an "About the Author" section complete with photos of the students themselves. There is no other book on earth like these personalized works of love and art.
What were some of the reactions you heard from residents and students?
Becky: As all 110 students stood in our Town Hall Meeting Room, I told them that practically every 4th grader does some sort of book writing project, but none is more thoughtful than what they had done for us. When I asked them what their favorite thing about the project was, they all eagerly raised their hands. The most common response was, "I really loved getting to know my 'grandbuddy' and learning what their life is like!"
The wife of a resident who served in the armed forces said, "This is worth a million dollars. No, it's more than that. It's priceless!" Another resident said, "I plan to keep in touch and follow these kids. They're all going to do something great." This was a sentiment shared by most!
Is there anyone you would like to thank?
Becky: Yes! A heartfelt thank you to the residents who participated, the incredible students, the parents who chaperoned each group and especially the teachers and leadership of St. Gabriel School who made this project a priority and a success. I have been a part of this endeavor for six years, bringing it with me as I transitioned to Resident Services Coordinator at Windsor Run in 2019. It is the best thing I have ever been associated with, and I couldn't be happier to collaborate with the amazing staff and students at St. Gabriel and the wonderful residents of Winsor Run!
About Windsor Run: Windsor Run, situated on a scenic 60-acre campus in Matthews, North Carolina, is one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®. The community is home to 260 residents who are supported by a team of more than 100 employees. Additional information about Windsor Run can be found at WindsorRunCommunity.com.