NORTH SALEM, N.Y. - Pequenakonck Elementary School’s kindergarten classes recently visited their intergenerational friends at Salem Hills Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Purdys. This sojourn marks the seventh year of this annual get-together to share kindness, communication, literacy, music and smiles.

This trip is part of the school’s unique, ongoing ONE CUB Kindness Initiative, founded by paraprofessionals Lisa Finer and Britt Togonon in 2008.

The young learners entered the facility’s arts and crafts room with a book in one hand ready to read to their senior partners. The friends conversed and colored together as they enjoyed each other’s company. A pot of flowers signed by each student was gifted as a memento for the seniors. The trip concluded with a sing-along including old standard tunes and a patriotic song. 

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This unique friendship has been ongoing throughout the year. Kindergartners traveled to Salem Hills on Halloween for trick-or-treating and a costume parade. They made “Thank you” stars in November for veteran residents at the facility. In December, all three classes arrived with presents for every senior friend to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah. ONE CUB expanded beyond the kindergarten walls as all grades at PQ participated in writing cards and letters, making gifts and stationery and collecting water bottles to recycle. 

All recycling money collected was used to purchase a gift for each of the 125 residents. PQ families, faculty and staff donated new items to be gifted. In February, the intergenerational friends exchanged Valentine’s Day cards and wishes. The year culminates with this wonderful trip in April, a truly heartwarming experience for all!

The mission of ONE CUB is to empower students with the knowledge that they can make a difference in the world through kindness, citizenship, problem solving, communication and celebrating the differences in us all. ONE CUB contributes to forming the foundation of these building blocks and skills that the students will cultivate and refine over their years at PQ, the MS/HS and well beyond.