Hermosa students bridge generation gap with holiday meal for seniors

Participants say meal serves as social event for both residents and students

Megan Petersen
Farmington Daily Times
Hermosa Middle School students Elle Monk, left, Megan Faherty, Sloan Tafoya and Cristal Ortega prepare meals for residents at the Apple Ridge Apartments Thursday in Farmington.
  • Hermosa Middle School has been presenting a holiday meal at the Apple Ridge Apartments for more than 25 years.
  • Students gathered and prepared all the food themselves for the full Thanksgiving meal.
  • Hermosa's meal is the only holiday meal for some residents who don't have friends or family nearby, staff member said.

FARMINGTON — Hermosa Middle School seventh-grader Colton Lincoln earned himself a round of applause from a group of residents having a Thanksgiving meal at the Apple Ridge Apartments today.

The seventh-grader, who was offering the seniors bread rolls, was asked to explain how to join the Junior National Honor Society after one of the residents commented on his T-shirt emblazoned with the group name.

“We have to have a 3.6 (grade point average), so we have to have all As and Bs,” Lincoln said as he held out a bread roll to a resident.

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“Oh, very good, so you’re a really, really good student. Congratulations,” resident Pat Fleming said, and the seniors finishing their pumpkin pie and Jell-O began to clap for the boy who smiled and said thanks.

“Such a sweet boy,” resident Victoria Aranda said as Lincoln continued offering bread rolls down the table.

Hermosa Middle School students hosted the Thanksgiving meal for the residents of the apartment complex in a longstanding tradition at the school.

Apple Ridge Apartments residents Marsha Males, left, Maggie Scott and Pat Fleming enjoy a dinner cooked by Hermosa Middle School students Thursday in Farmington.

Students involved in the National Junior Honor Society and the school’s Leadership Club prepared and served the traditional holiday meal, an event that the school has organized for 26 years, according to NJHS sponsor and Hermosa family and consumer science teacher Rebecca Werth.

The seventh- and eighth-grade students bring in the food themselves or pitch in money to buy larger items, and the group consisting of 63 students spends almost two days preparing the meal in one-hour shifts at school, Werth said. The menu included turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans, home-made cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and Jell-O cocktails.

Hermosa Middle School students Emily Black, left, Alyssa Taft and Bria Cohen deliver meals to residents of the Apple Ridge Apartments Thursday in Farmington.

“The kids did it all,” Werth said, adding that the service project allows Hermosa students “to be humbled by how much it means to these guys.”

More than 20 students went to Apple Ridge today to serve residents in a community meal and to deliver meals to residents who could not attend the community meal.

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Eighth-grader Cristal Ortega, who is the school’s NJHS president, said the Thanksgiving meal is her favorite community service event the school’s Honor Society chapter participates in.

“It’s just really fun — the whole cooking thing and getting ready for this, then being able to come over here and serve them, and when we’re done, we get to sit down and talk with them,” Ortega said.

Caregiver Lynn Markle receives a meal from Hermosa Middle School students Alyssa Taft, left, Emily Black and Bria Cohen Thursday at the Apple Ridge Apartments in Farmington.

Resident Marsha Males said the event opens an important door between generations.

“It’s a good connection for them and for us,” Males said before adding with a laugh that the project “give the kids a sense of the fact that all old people aren’t creepy and scary.”

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The Thanksgiving meal is a highlight in the yearly calendar for many residents, according to Bonni Vendetti, social services coordinator for the Apple Ridge Apartments.

“I started working here in April, and (residents) were telling me about Thanksgiving the day that I started,” Vendetti said. “… We love it, and we’re really appreciative of the kids. For some of the residents, this is the only holiday meal that they’ll have because some don’t have any friends or family nearby, so it’s a big deal here.”

Megan Petersen covers business and education for The Daily Times. Reach her at 505-564-4621 or 

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