'Magic Me' weaves a spell over seniors and students A decade of togetherness celebrated BALTIMORE COUNTY

February 10, 1993|By Ed Brandt | Ed Brandt,Staff Writer

Priyanka Millar, a sixth-grader at Bryn Mawr, waited yesterday for the bus to arrive with a group of elderly residents from the Melchor Nursing Home.

"Will my pal Beatrice be here?" she asked.

It was the 10th anniversary of Bryn Mawr's participation in Magic Me, complete with Valentine's cake, cookies, punch, tea, and music, among other things.

For years, Bryn Mawr students have made weekly visits to Melchor on North Charles Street. Yesterday, about 50 residents from the home, some with tears of joy in their eyes, returned the favor, grasping young hands for support as they were led into the lobby of Centennial Hall on the Bryn Mawr campus.

Katherine LaFrance and Danielle Kalish, both eighth-graders, played Bach's "Concerto for Two Violins." Later, three students sang while others served sweets to the elders.

Forty-four Bryn Mawr students are among about 1,000 students from private and public schools in the Baltimore area who regularly visit homes for the elderly under the Magic Me program, founded in 1980 by Kathy Levin of Baltimore.

"I was looking for something honest and human to do," said Ms. Levin. "The kids have proved the worth of the program."

Though created to help the elderly, Magic Me has become a 50-50 deal. "I'm absolutely [amazed] by the way the kids have become attached to their elderly friends," Ms. Levin said. The program also is geared toward increasing the students' self-esteem.

Magic Me, which operates in 42 cities around the world, is funded by donations from corporations and foundations.

The state of Maryland contributes to the local program.

"Baltimore has the largest program, including some schools in the inner city," Ms. Levin said. "There are some tough kids in those schools, but they join the program because they are craving to matter. It has turned some lives around."

Marion Brecht, a Bryn Mawr teacher who founded the program there and trains the students, said, "A lot of kids are afraid of the elderly. Now they love the program, and treat the elderly as true friends."

In the words of one Melchor resident, the program is "a golden dream come true."

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