Breakfast toasts youth, seniors joining forces

While Enumclaw Senior Activity Center volunteers bustled in the kitchen flipping flapjacks, teenagers from Enumclaw Youth and Family Services’ center were busy seating and waiting on community members eager for breakfast. The smell of sausage was strong. The strains of bluegrass from the band Original Recipe spurred dancing, and the relationship built between the youth and seniors was immeasurable.

“It was awesome,” said Jobyna Nickum, Enumclaw’s senior center manager. “Everyone had a great time. The seniors and youth who served had a great time. The band that played had a great time. The people who came and ate pancakes had a great time.

“We heard nothing but positive comments.”

EYFS Director Gary Hemminger echoed Nickum’s comments.

“A lot of them stepped up, and they did enjoy it,” he said of the kids who rolled out of bed early on a Saturday morning and ventured outside their comfort zone to help with the event. “The response surprised us.”

Under the banner “Generations United for a Stronger Community,” the Enumclaw senior and youth centers joined forces April 30 to raise money for the youth center.

It was the Senior Advisory Board’s plan, but the youth were more than happy to help.

According to Nickum, during their regular meeting, Senior Advisory Board members were discussing the deep funding cuts the youth center suffered during the latest round of budgeting.

“They were asking themselves, ‘What can we do to support our next door neighbors, the youth,?’” Nickum said. Pancake breakfasts are the group’s specialty, so they decided to parlay it into a fundraiser.

The last time seniors raised money for the youth it was to support the skate park.

The breakfast made more than $800 for the youth center, but just as important, it bridged a generation gap and spurred the two groups to think about more intergenerational projects.

“We got a lot of positive comments,” Hemminger said. “We want to continue to work with them and see if we can generate more interactive activities.

“We’re looking forward. That breakfast kicked off some new ideas for both the youth and senior center.”

Hemminger said there are more than 400 youth registered with the center and between 20 and 60 youngsters pop into the youth center every evening. The center tallies 7,000 visits a year, many repeat.

Like all money donated to EYFS, the senior center fundraiser funds are dedicated to the Enumclaw center even though it filters through Auburn Youth and Family Resources. The money raised through the pancake breakfast will go toward offsetting costs from budget reductions.