Since January, third graders at the Haldane Elementary School in Cold Spring, NY have been learning to write in cursive and what could be a better way to learn and hone a new skill than to practice by writing letters weekly to your pen pal! But you need a “pal” to “pen pal” with. Jenny Carpenter, a parent and local artist, stepped in to volunteer to coordinate the “Out of the Blue” program – encouraging friendships to be made and letters in blue envelopes to be received out of the blue. The experience of receiving and opening a letter from a friend surely warms the heart more than the annoying ping of a “got mail” alert on your smart phone. What was so special about this program is that the third graders of 2019 reached out to pal up with third graders from 1930 to 1960, the seniors of Cold Spring.
As the school year nears its end, and after many letters have changed hands, and writing skills have improved with cursives more legible (we hope!), the pen pals were united this past Wednesday, June 12, at Putnam County’s Office for Senior Resources’ Friendship Center at Philipstown. The house was packed with 36 third graders and 55 seniors sharing tables, sharing stories, and more importantly sharing new friendships that span generations. It was impossible to measure who embraced the interaction more – the school kids or the seniors. The smiles on all faces were broad and the chatter loud; decibel levels this high had not been heard at the Friendship since the construction tools went quiet when the Center opened this past December.
The goals of both the Haldane School and the Friendship Center were met – to increase multi- generational social interaction and to enrich the lives of pen pals through the experience of writing to and receiving letters from a friend.