Pen pals meet after two years

Liberty ARC residents and Hillcrest Spring Assisted Living residents, who have been writing each other for two years as pen pals met today at Hillcrest to help decorate for Christmas. From the left are Carmie Oropallo, Ken Hotaling, Rose Tambasco, Colleen Irish, Sue Jones, Bethany Cramer and Joan Pipito. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

AMSTERDAM — Christmas cheer and friendship was celebrated at the Hillcrest Spring Assisted Living Facility along with a group from Liberty ARC on Friday.

Liberty ARC residents met with their pen pals at Hillcrest Spring Assisted Living Facility on Friday to help decorate for Christmas.

There are 11 individuals from both facilities who have been writing one another as pen pals for the past two years and they were able to meet for the first time in August at an ice cream social.

Friday marked the second time the two groups were able to meet, just in time for the holidays.

“The first time they met, it was like they’ve known each other forever,” said Liberty ARC Director of the Academics program, Sue Jones.

Shown are Colleen Irish, left, and Rose Tambasco, right, who help hang ornaments on a Christmas tree on Friday at Hillcrest Spring Assisted Living. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

Jones, who began the pen pals program with Lesia Talmadge, activity director at Hillcrest, said the program helps with participants’ writing and has been good for community involvement.

“I think letter writing is important because it’s kind of a lost art. And its important people continue to communicate with one another through written word, but then actually meeting face-to-face,” Pecora said. “They look forward to getting letters and they look forward to writing letters.”

Prior to the event, the Liberty ARC group — with the help of the art teacher at Liberty — had made decorations for their pen pals, filled out Christmas cards and wrote letters.

“They have grown so much with their writing skills and not only that, but their mingling with each other,” Jones said. “They’re fairly young — in their 20s and 30s — and they’ve become really good friends with the senior citizens at this facility. They’re all very excited getting together.”

Talmadge said both groups would like to get together more often.

From the left, Breauna Theobld, Hida Jones, Marie Novy and Leila Green gather to chat (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

Lois Pecora, activities director at Hillcrest said some of the folks from Liberty are in a handbell choir and the handbell choir also goes to Hillcrest.

“Our residents wants to learn how to play the handbells, so that’s another program that we hope to expand our relationship with Liberty,” Pecora said.

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