How this 99-year-old woman is changing the lives of neglected, abused and abandoned children

Posted at 10:57 AM, Dec 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-17 18:44:58-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Broad Street, senior citizens have found their fountain of youth. It’s a place where the Golden Years meet the Wonder Years. Just about every Wednesday, volunteers with St. Mary’s Woods senior home meet with children at the Virginia Home for Boys and Girls in Henrico’s West End. The lesson plan? Crocheting and knitting.

"It is just a nice exchange of ideas. We learn from them and they learn from us," Hester Abbott, from St. Mary’s, said.

Knitting and crocheting might not sound cool to most teens, but don’t tell that that to these children.

"I’ve learned how to interact better with people and learn how to do amazing things with knitting," 16-year-old Taylor Samuels said. "I really appreciate them coming."

Boys and girls at Virginia Home for Boys and Girls face tough odds as most have been neglected, abused or abandoned. The time spent with the seniors gives them time to love, share and learn, Kandiss Waddy, with the home, said.

Ms. Abbott, 99, and 92-year-old Ms. Boehling provide a measure of stability, consistency and most importantly, love.

"Sometimes when I come and they remember my name or give me a hug. It is a very good feeling," Ms. Abbott said. "And I just like being with young people."

Determining just who enjoys these get-togethers more can be difficult.

"It is really heartwarming and you go home thinking you really have accomplished something," Ms. Boehling said.

Nan Pascal, with St. Mary’s, hatched these meetings more than two years ago.

St. Mary’s Woods hero WTVR

"I think our residents really enjoy being around, energetic, imaginative, enthusiastic children," Pascal said. "I think the children benefit from being around people who are calm and thoughtful, experience and wise and pretty cool too."

About 80 years separate the teens and their beloved visitors, but the age difference melts away during the hour-long bonding sessions. They are field trips that are so much more than spinning a good yarn.

"I just think deep down that they really care about us," Ashton White, 14, said.

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