Grandparents Day: Narrowing the Gap

Kids at the ARTree in Newhall have spent time doing artwork to display at the Senior Center’s celebration. SIGNAL FILE PHOTO

When we talk about various generations – Baby Boomers, Gen X or Y, the Greatest Generation, Millennials – we tend to accentuate the challenges stemming from the differences between them. It seems they’re dissimilar in almost every way, from the music they like to the language they use.

Bringing them together in celebration is one way to shorten the gap between them, which everyone gets the chance to do on Grandparents Day, which is officially Sunday, Sept. 9.

The Santa Clarita Senior Center is hosting a Grandparents Day party on Friday, Sept. 7 at lunchtime, with a fitting theme – Senior Centers: Building Momentum – Growing, Learning, Giving, Connecting. September is National Senior Center Month, and because Santa Clarita’s new Senior Center is getting close to opening its doors, it reflects the personal momentum local seniors can experience when they receive recognition, dignity and a little time in the spotlight.

“The innovative programs and opportunities at the SCV Senior Center are changing the perception of aging, empowering older adults, and ‘building momentum towards the future of aging,’” said Robin Clough, volunteer & recreation coordinator for the SCV Senior Center.

The luncheon tables will include forget-me-nots, the official flower of Grandparents Day, and guests can hit the dance floor when Tess and ‘N Motion Band plays their favorites.

“It is a day set aside to appreciate all the joy and wisdom of older adults,” Clough said.

Here in Santa Clarita, a special partnership is aimed at joining young and old this year. Kids at The ARTree in Old Town Newhall have spent time drawing portraits of grandparents to display at the Senior Center’s celebration. The aim of the artwork is to express their love and gratitude for grandparents and the senior population in general.

The kids were asked, “What does a grandparent look like?” and children of all ages who attended The ARTree’s monthly Flutterby class were able to draw their own image of a grandmother or grandfather in answer to that question.

“Their personal interpretation,” said Terrie Castillo, a volunteer at both The ARTree and the Senior Center. “I’m always fascinated to see what they come up with.”

After retirement, Castillo began as a classroom assistant at The ARTree, and now she typically teaches the class for 5- to 7-year-olds. In addition to a six-week session of classes called “Art Sampler,” The non-profit holds an open studio called Flutterby on the first Saturday of the month. This weekend the theme was “drawing,” so the kids could create the portraits of seniors, which will hang in the Senior Center’s multipurpose room for the event.

The Grandparents Day collaboration between The ARTree and the SCV Senior Center came about organically, considering Castillo’s volunteerism at both. She works with Robin Clough as an events coordinator, helping her with planning the events alongside several volunteers who help with the themes, all serving in various capacities.

“This will certainly make the occasion especially meaningful as seniors view the art and its touching sentiments,” Clough said.

According to historical records, National Grandparents Day came about because of the efforts of a West Virginian advocate for the elderly, Marian McQuade. She had 43 grandchildren of her own and began campaigning in the 1970s for a day to be set aside to honor grandparents. Even as a child, she and her grandmother spent time delivering gifts to seniors in their neighborhood, and when her 15 children were grown she began petitioning leaders to recognize the elderly.

The United States Congress passed legislation in 1978 proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. A presidential proclamation was signed by President Jimmy Carter, and thus began the observation of this special holiday.





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