Generations merge every Thursday night at the Annapolis Senior Center when youngsters 7 through 17 meet elders 65 and over under a new mentorship program.
"It's a beautiful inter-generational meeting," said Roger Reed, director of the mentorship program, sponsored by the Annapolis Children Foundation.
The program offers the opportunity for honor students in Annapolis schools to read books and learn craft-making skills from seniors, who Reed says possess "a wealth of knowledge."
Three Annapolis youth associations, The Pack, Annapolis All-Stars and The Annapolis YouthAssociation, have chosen 10 of their honor members to attend the mentorship program at the senior center.
"I was asked to come here and I agreed. As I kept coming, I got used to them, and they got used to me," said Karen Hudson, 17, a member of The Pack. "I'd recommend the experience to all my friends."
Through his six-month-old program, Reed said, he hopes to "make the community better by giving to the community in a positive way. These seniors can give their knowledge to the kids, and in doing so teach them respect and self-worth."
Mary Jane DiFiore of the county Department of Aging said senior reaction has been very good. "They feel worthwhile. Here they are, with all this experience to share," she said. "Now they have someone to share it with."
Emily Olsen, 88, has attended the program for eight weeks and enjoys reading poetry with the children. "We just enjoy seeing the children," she said.
The night begins at 7 p.m. with a 30-minute reading session, where each child chooses a book and a partner. Afterward, seniors who specialize in areas such as quilt-making and ceramics teach their skills. DiFiore said several boys already have learned to sew.
And Thursday night is not the only time the two generations meet. Recently, young and old saw the movie "Hook" and took a museum tour in Baltimore.
Upcoming events include a trip to Baltimore to ride the cruise ship Lady Baltimore.
DiFiore said the mentorship program also helps keep the kids out of trouble. "There's such aneed for this type of program," she said. "We will continue to do a variety of things to see what the kids enjoy."
Even though Reed seems the center of attention when he enters the activity room every Thursday night, he knows better.
"When I walk in, the seniors look beyond me," he said, "and they say, 'Hey, Mr. Reed, where are the children?' "
For more information on the mentorship program, call 268-0758.