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Youth pays tribute to experience

(ran PT edition)

A special contest for fifth-graders is held annually in Pasco County schools. "My Favorite Older Person" essay contest gives pupils the opportunity to let their special seniors know they are important. The contest is sponsored by SunTrust Bank, Nature Coast, Pasco County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council/Area Agency on Aging.

Each year as I read essays, I am proud of the writing skills of the pupils and often shed a tear when I read the depth of relationships between the young and not-so-young. The judges certainly have a difficult task choosing the winners.

I was especially touched when I read the essay that I will share with you on this page. Helen Hammond is an outstanding RSVP school volunteer and a very special person. An Anclote Elementary School student, Patricia Watkins, is the author. Patricia is in Mrs. Alice Sansonetti's class.

Other essay contest winners are:

Cailin Guenkel, Shady Hills Elementary School. Lou Gerace, a friend, is her favorite older person.

Jackie VanBroekhoven, Lake Myrtle Elementary School. Leslie Valdez, a camp counselor, is her favorite older person.

Alyssa L. Thomas, Anclote Elementary School. Alice Tippett, a friend, is her favorite older person.

Congratulations to all contest participants and their teachers. When intergenerational activities happen, everyone is a winner.

_ Carol Keyes is the director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program in Pasco County. You can write her c/o Seniority, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

My favorite older person

By PATRICIA WATKINS

The person who influenced me the most during my lifetime is Mrs. Helen Hammond. She volunteers at our school every day. She does not have any children and her husband died several years ago. She had three sisters and one brother, but her brother died when he was 10 years old of a back injury, and two of her sisters have also passed away. After volunteering at school each day, she comes home and has to take care of her older sister, who lives next door to her.

Mrs. Hammond is very busy. She works with at least eight classrooms in the school. She has a full day ahead of her when she comes in at 10 o'clock and works until 2 o'clock. In all this time, she has only one break, from 10:45 until 11 a.m., and that is only on two days of the week! She works with children having trouble with math, spelling, reading and English. The teachers appreciate what she does very much because that gives them time to work with the other children.

The children love Mrs. Hammond because she is a good influence on them. Mrs. Hammond is very cool because of the things she does for the children. I like what she does to help our school out. The children she works with love her because she is giving up her own free time to work with them even though they are having trouble.

If you meet Mrs. Hammond, you would know what I am talking about. She is the sweetest person I have ever met. If anything ever happened to her, I don't know what I would do. She is fun to be around, and she is also funny. She is a very pretty woman and dresses nicely. She has a good way of dealing with all of the children. She has never ever raised her voice at anyone, never! She keeps her voice down even if you're bad or if you don't try your hardest. Now, that's okay with me. Almost everyone in the school knows and loves her.

To volunteer:

Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP): (813) 836-2203 or (904) 524-2203

Community Aging and Retirement Services (CARES): Port Richey, 862-9291; Land O'Lakes, 996-6509

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