Gateway: Living

Seniors, high school students bond of over making emergency kits

Heron’s Key resident Gail Bierman and Henderson Bay High School junior Isabella Peterson team up April 12 to fill emergency kits for distribution to those in need.
Heron’s Key resident Gail Bierman and Henderson Bay High School junior Isabella Peterson team up April 12 to fill emergency kits for distribution to those in need. Contributing writer

Last month some of us involved with the Peninsula Emergency Preparedness Coalition joined Henderson Bay High School senior students and seniors who are residents at Heron's Key community center for our first-ever “Senior to Senior” program.

Teams of young and elderly seniors pooled their talents to fill emergency preparedness survival kits destined for distribution among those within our communities who need but cannot afford such items as hygiene and first aid materials, emergency drinking water pouches, emergency blankets, ponchos, flashlights and more. Heron’s Key arranged delivery of the kits to the coalition, which will distribute them.

Heron's Key resident Marty Beert said together, 100 sturdy containers were filled with emergency supplies to be donated to an underserved population.

"The interactions were fun and rewarding. We squeezed more supplies into the carry bags than any thought would fit," Beert said.

Marc Avni, who spearheaded the program between Heron’s Key and the coalition, developed the Senior to Senior program to increase communication and understanding between generations who have little to no interaction in the normal course of events.

"I have always felt society suffers from this,” he said, who is a retired executive director of a nonprofit senior center. "Older people hold much of the institutional knowledge that needs to be passed on to younger people who are key to new and innovative ways of doing things."

HBHS junior Kayci Guiberson, who participated in the event, said it was an amazing experience bonding and learning more about the Gig Harbor community.

"I’m looking forward sharing with my school the experience I had and hopefully coming back as a senior next year," she said.

Heron’s Key’s Anne Delaney enjoyed building emergency kits and getting to know the teenagers. Same for HBHS senior Josh Garland, but who was there to get to know his elders.

Classmate Solie Bates said this experience has strengthened the relationship between the youth and the elderly of Gig Harbor.

"Given the chance, I would do an event like this again,” she said.

“It feels great giving back to the community that does so much for us,” said HBHS senior Nicholas Jenkin.

Classmate Jacob Felix Bacon said, “This experience has helped broaden my mental image of the elderly and I excitedly look forward to doing more events such as this.”

Freshman Kadence Roy Pitner wanted to help.

"I get happy when I can help and make people laugh," she said.

Peninsula Light Energy Services Coordinator Jim Bellamy said Peninsula Light was a financial sponsor of the event.

"Many new friends were made among the participants and so much good was accomplished to bridge the generation gap while providing a resource for life-saving emergency kits to be distributed to our seniors-in-need on the Key Peninsula,” he said.

Coalition general chair Curt Scott said, "We do a lot of things to try and do good, but few touch how much we do actually care about each other and what we can do for each other and for those who need help like the Senior to Senior event. That was incredibly inspiring!”