My wife, Susan, and I find great joy in being Bridges Volunteers at Coburn Elementary School here in West Springfield, Massachusetts.
The Bridges Vision: “Every child and older adult will experience the richness of intergenerational relationships and interdependence.”
Below is a poem I wrote about our experience as volunteers, along with a few photos.
This is an account of children, third grade students, of Coburn Elementary School
Located in West Springfield, Massachusetts. Children who are 8-10 years old
Interacting with senior citizens—building bridges together by talking, reading,
Listening, creating art, laughing, sharing pieces of ourselves.
Many children of refugees and immigrants. Children of dreamers
Of a better way of life. Children of parents and grandparents
From Nepal, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Russia, Puerto Rico,
Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Latvia, Belarus, Germany,
Poland, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Moldova.
Children who speak two, three, four languages.
Children named Maimuna, Luis, Jayden, Ivy, Haydia, Nabaa,
Evan, Luca, Layla, Bogdan, Isabella, Victoria, Mohamed,
Prashna, Prashik, Prateemna, Prabesh, Jaylin, Tisha, Milana,
Emily, Jordan, Miyana, Joseph, Yuliya, Matilda, Lilly, Emil,
Michael, Kimberly, Yariana, Elijah, Hailey, David, Caleb,
Matthew, Emil, Yariana, Mykle, Jade, Mihaela.
Children who dream of being firefighters, lawyers, baseball players,
Basketball and soccer players, doctors, nurses, scientists, teachers.
Children who say, “You are the best Bridges friends ever.”
“Thank You for listening and talking with me.”
“Thank you for doing the Macarena with me.”
“Thank You for playing cards with me.”
“Thank You for making me laugh.”
“Thank You for helping me. You were funny, helpful and supportive.”
“Thank You for your company and helping us with our art projects.”
“I am grateful you spent time with us.”
“Thank You for your time. Remember when we made the banks?
That was so much fun! Hope we can do it again.”
“Thank you for being here when I am down. You get me
Up and going. You make me happy.”
“Thank you for helping us with the fun stuff we made.”
“I love you. You will always be in my heart.”
Our Bridges friends: Children who believe the world is wonderful
“Because Nature is a painting by life;”
“Because there are lots of beautiful things and happy families;”
“Because there are computers, cats, people, food, pets,
Family, friends, water, emogees, sunflowers, rainbows,
Waterfalls, forests, and cookies;”
“Because we have families, food, and trees;”
“Because we see different people every day and they are beautiful;”
“Because of family, friends, cousins, aunts, uncles,
Grandparents and food and drinks;”
“Because of many beautiful faces;”
“Because everyone loves each other. We all are family;”
“Because of flowers, grass, trees, animals, people, religions;”
“Because of friends and family and my teachers;”
“Because of every person in the world smiling and laughing;”
“Because the roses are red, the clouds white, the sky blue.
They are there for me and you.
What a wonderful world.”
“Mr. Bruce and Miss Susan………
When will we see you again?
I love you.”
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4 thoughts on “What A Wonderful World”
Thank you Susan and Bruce Barone for volunteering at Coburn School in West Springfield, MA BridgesVolunteers sounds like a great organization!
My children went to Mittineague Elementary School. So your kindnesses fall close to home. I was a PTA volunteer in those days, mostly raising funds, chairing Christmas Shoppe, chairing Schoolastic Book Fairs and School Counsel -School Improvement Plans.
While I’m long past PTA and am now substituting, I can see how an extra person can really help in a busy classroom.
I substitute teach in another town, so now I see how much, in class volunteering or aid work is needed. Your plan seems to center on mental health enrichment and I think that is fantastic! Children need to be children sometimes, and pushing them through lessons without a break for making connections with the wisdom of adulthood, other than one teacher may fall short as a teacher is only one person and may struggle to answer every question or address every need.
You mention children from many other countries attending schools in West Springfield. One teacher can kind, friendly and a really great leader, but children have many things they deal with. Coming to a new country and going to school may be a new experience and their parents working to support expenses can be very tiring.
Thank you for all you do in the classrooms. You are both so wonderful to spend time with the children and support the teachers of Coburn Elementary School.
Thank You so much for taking time to write. This program, Bridges, is wonderful!