Children who attend McCarver Elementary School in Tacoma, Wash., are wondering whether to dress up as superheroes, monsters, princesses or some other fantastical creature for Halloween.
But one thing some of them can be certain about is where they’ll do their trick-or-treating.
For the eighth year in a row, residents of the 169-resident Harbor View Manor in Tacoma will host up to 25 McCarver school children for Halloween activities such as apple bobbing, pumpkin carving and a costume contest. The scariest fun will be located in the community’s haunted house, which includes a giant spider web and an effigy of Frankenstein’s monster rising from a tomb.
“The kids get a big kick out of that,” says Debora Burks, social services coordinator at the community.
And of course, there will be a lot of candy.
Burks says the connection between Harbor View Manor and McCarver Elementary — where 98 percent of the 440 students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch — extends beyond the annual Halloween party. On March 2 each year, the community’s residents visit McCarver and read to students as part of Read Across America Day, which marks the birthday of author Dr. Seuss.
Each April, the community’s residents and team members host an Easter egg hunt for McCarver kids. They also dye eggs with the children, serve snacks and hand out baskets filled with painted eggs and chocolate bunnies.
“When one little girl saw how many eggs were there, she was so excited, her eyes lit up,” says Ala Talo, co-founder of Hearts For Kids, a private nonprofit that has coordinated the McCarver connection with the community over the past four years. “Harbor View did a wonderful job partnering with the kids from McCarver on the Easter visit.”
One of those partners, Trudy Ervin, 81, has helped children color eggs and carve pumpkins during each of the five years she has lived at the community.
“I think it’s a great help to the kids,” says Ervin. “I think we need more of this, because the children are our future.”
Ervin knows what she’s talking about. She spent more than four decades working with some of the toughest youths in Alameda County, Calif., including children and teenagers who lived in halfway houses and juvenile halls.
“That’s been a part of me and a part of my life, since 1966,” says Ervin.
The McCarver connection has also been part of Florence Motley’s long life. Motley, 100, who has lived at Harbor View Manor for 16 years, has noticed that many McCarver children don’t have grandparents. She says the children enjoy spending time with older people.
“As long as these kids have the support of the elders, they’ll be good students,” she says.
Motley and Ervin are part of the community’s “total team effort,” which according to Burks makes this program successful.
“This is a tradition that we all joyously keep alive because it enriches our community,” she says.
And the McCarver kids appreciate all the Harbor View Manor volunteers.
“Our kids absolutely love it,” says Nicole McDaniel, another Hearts for Kids co-founder. “The children come back and talk about how much they enjoy spending time at Harbor View.”
Founded in 1949, ABHOW is widely known for its pioneering leadership in senior housing and health care. The company serves more than 5,000 residents in 42 retirement communities in California, Arizona, Nevada and Washington.
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This article appears in the October 2012 issue of ABHOW Words.