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Bridging the Generation Gap

The fare was hot dogs, hamburgers, chips and a helping hand at Smith Park in Pico Rivera last week. About 30 teen-agers joined 13 senior citizens in an afternoon of bingo, three-legged and egg-in-spoon races and egg and balloon tosses. The seniors handled the bingo game. They left the more vigorous activities to young volunteer surrogates, who then donated to the seniors prizes such as water bottles, fanny packs, ceramic trinkets and a thermos.

The picnic was a chance for the youths, ages 14 to 19, to socialize with each other and seniors who signed up for a free assistance program sponsored by Catholic Charities. The program, called Building Intergenerational Community Services, pairs youths with disabled seniors. The teens run errands, do shopping, clean house and perform yardwork for the seniors. The teen-agers raised money for the picnic by selling nachos and baked goods at community music concerts during the summer.

At the get-together in left photo above, Susan Lee, a student at El Rancho High School, asks Amanda Burger what kind of food she would like. Sonia Hernandez, another El Rancho student, assists Jessie Segura, right, across the park grounds.

As many as 75 volunteers have helped the group of 35 seniors currently enrolled in the program, director Cristina Quijada said.

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