By Janet Noah

A special connection happened on Valentine’s Day in 2017 between a 9 year old boy and a 95 year old man.

When third grade students from Winthrop Charter School visited residents at The Bridges Assisted Living and Memory Care Community in February, student Marcelo Moreira met resident Ralph Kitchens and an immediate friendship blossomed.

Throughout the year, the school’s students would visit with residents, participate in themed parties and help make decorations. Marcelo gave Ralph a handmade Valentine’s Day card, which hung on the door to Ralph’s apartment until Ralph passed away on October 7.

Ralph and Marcelo shared their passion for airplanes and Ralph told Marcelo about his adventures when he few planes during WWII. He showed him photographs and a model airplane.

Ralph told his daughter, Mary Johnson, about Marcelo and spoke fondly of their visits. After Ralph’s passing, Mary and her sister, Susi Brzezowski, felt strongly that Ralph would like Marcelo to have his model airplane and a photograph of Ralph in his plane.

Marcelo’s third grade teacher, Lauren Fechtmann, connected Ralph’s daughters to Marcelo and his parents, Erika Quesada and Esteban Moreira. When presenting Ralph’s items to Marcelo, Mary thanked him for being her dad’s friend.

Marcelo replied, “Ralph was a great guy. I would have liked to spend more time with him. I hope what I did will give other kids courage to help other people.” Marcelo shared with Mary that Ralph had told him “to never give up.” “Just like he didn’t give up when he jumped out of his airplane and landed in the ocean.”

As Fechtmann observed Marcelo and Mary conversing, she commented, “My entire class said that visiting The Bridges was their favorite part of the year. The chance to be with all the grandparents left an impression on everyone.”

For more information on Winthrop Charter School, visit http://www.winthropcharter.org/.

For more information on The Bridges Assisted Living, visit http://bridgesretirement.com/.