ST. CLOUD - For the past four years, Clearview Elementary students have been forming a special bond with seniors at St. Benedict’s Senior Community.

Twice a month, 4th grade students in Andrea Coulter’s class are paired with a senior to spend an hour of time together. Coulter says both the seniors and students love spending time together.

"This is extremely rewarding-the students are absolutely amazing beings, they are wonderful and come from familes who are behind this project as well," Coulter says.

Students spend their visits sharing stories, doing arts and crafts and reading books to the seniors.

"When we have the students pick a picture book to read to residents-they are very proud of that-they work hard on expression, their fluency and all the different aspects of literacy," Coulter says.

Both St. Benedict's Senior Community Center and Coulter were recognized with an award at the Care Providers of Minnesota's annual convention, held last month in Minneapolis. The award recognizes the efforts of a care provider when they create a partnership with a group or organization that improves the quality of life for its residents.

Last year, funding for the program ran out. However, St. Benedict’s Senior Community was able to keep the program going by raising donations at fundraisers.

"We had residents coming out of their rooms that were never interacting before and we had students making such gains-so CentraCare decided to do some fundraising," Coulter says.

The program now has enough funds to run for another four years. Coulter says both the students and seniors are always looking forward to their next visit and that the bonds created are simply incredible.


Dan DeBaun, WJON News