Capital Gazette, Jerri Anne Hopkins, Correspondent 12:44 p.m. EST, February 18, 2015.


Around South County: 'Kin-necting' young and old through valentines - Photo: Capital Gazette

Two of the elaborate and beautiful cards made by the students and residents when Edgewater Elementary School’s English language learning class got together with seniors at the South River Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center recently through a Kin-Nect Inc., program. (By Jerri Anne Hopkins, Correspondent / February 11, 2015) PHOTO: CAPITAL GAZETTE


At first they were shy and a bit confused, but soon enough the lure of brightly colored paper, markers, decorations, glitter and glue overwhelmed any constraints and they all, young and old alike, were happily engaged in creating Valentine’s Day cards, working together to make something beautiful.

It was all just one step in Kin-nect, Inc.’s goal of teaching children about community service, how to connect with the elderly, and how to enrich other people’s lives in their local area. Kin-nect brought together 14 students from Edgewater Elementary School’s English language learning class, grades three to five, with residents of the South River Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center just across the street, to spend a morning making Valentine’s Day cards.

“Our mission is to give back to the community by celebrating the lives of the elderly,” Mary Kay Robertson, who founded Kin-Nect in 2013, said. “We believe that all people should be appreciated, respected, cared for and loved. And this is a great way to help the kids learn about the differences we celebrate.”

“All these students have Spanish as their first language and they’ve all learned English,” said Cheryl Mencke, English language teacher at Edgewater. “We decided to do this as a project for them to get to know their community better. And my father died recently in a nursing home, and he so loved having children visit, so I did it to honor him too.

“Most of these students have relatives in other countries that they don’t get to see, so it gives them a chance to relate to senior citizens. They’re all very good kids, so kind and energetic. They can make connections and maybe come back and visit some of the residents,” Mencke said.

“It’s great for the kids to interact with the residents of the center,” Kelly Schell-Ramey, principal of Edgewater Elementary, said. “They wanted to be here; they weren’t really sure what it all meant at first but they knew it was about giving back to the community and that’s what they wanted to do. And it’s great to see them interacting so easily with the seniors here and the residents are also having a great time with the kids.”

For details on Kin-nect, Inc., visit

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