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Fun and fulfilling

Seniors, scouts teams up at Ann's Choice

Created date

January 24th, 2012

If you like children and have skills to share, you ll thrive as part of the Seniors United for Scouting (SUS) group at Ann s Choice, an Erickson Living community in Bucks County, Pa. SUS volunteers help local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts earn badges and awards. Bob Swan, who lives in a Harrison-style apartment home at Ann s Choice, started the group. He has been involved in scouting for 30-plus years, but SUS volunteers needn t have been leaders or even scouts. Tina Ruzzi Longello, the community resources coordinator at Ann s Choice, is the group s point person, Bob is a go-between for Boy Scout projects, and former Girl Scout leader Grace Kremer, another Ann s Choice resident, is the same for Girl Scout projects. In late 2010, Ann s Choice held a scouting expo to introduce the Philadelphia-area scouting community to campus resources such as the all-season pool and large, multipurpose clubhouses with restaurants, a convenience store and pharmacy, day spa, and ATM and banking services. The expo also showcased campus clubs eager to share their talents and skills. Scouts and leaders shopped the tables and did some hands-on learning. It wasn t long before scouts and seniors teamed up.

Pairing generations

Last year, SUS helped with several Boy Scout badge projects, including model railroading a perfect collaboration as Ann s Choice has five model railroad displays, and Bob chairs the campus model railroad club. Ann s Choice also made its swimming pool available for scouts to work on a lifesaving badge. Additionally, SUS volunteers teamed up with seven Girl Scout troops, mainly on community service projects. Grace and other members of the Ann s Choice crochet group taught stitches to a troop making preemie hats for a hospital. They helped scouts make fleece kennel blankets for a veterinarian s office. And they gave sewing lessons to a troop who had collected old soccer socks to fill with rice, sew shut, and donate to animal surgery centers for use as ice or heat packs. The scouts say they have fun at Ann s Choice. This year promises more projects and exciting events. In February, Ann s Choice will display scouting memorabilia in one of its creative arts studios to highlight the Boy Scouts 101st anniversary. In March, Cheryl Bryant hopes to celebrate the Girls Scouts 100th anniversary with an event that will include Ann s Choice community members. Bryant, a physical therapist who works in the community s Home Health department, leads two Girl Scout troops. Also in March, Ann s Choice will host the Bucks County Boy Scout Council s district-level Pinewood Derby competition. Community members can get in on the action by purchasing a Pinewood Derby kit from SUS, crafting a racer, and competing against their neighbors. Then, the top resident racers and the top scout racers will compete. But SUS isn t just fun. It s also fulfilling.

Senior role models

The SUS program means I have a great community connection for planning intergenerational events, says Bryant. I have a group of local supporters who are enthusiastic and genuinely interested in sharing their experiences, talents, and skills. And I have a great group of role models for our scouts!