May 9, 2016

Washington, D.C., is a city filled with historic sights that invites conversation as well as the exchange of information and memories.

All of these are the hoped-for outcome of a Bridging the Generations trip to the nation’s capital this week by a group from The Watermark at East Hill in Southbury.

Bridging the Generations is a Watermark intergenerational program that fosters the exchange of information, knowledge and friendship between its residents and young people.

 Sightseers on a May 10 to 12 trip include 11 facility residents, 10 of its employees, 12 Boy Scouts from troops 158 and 58 in New Milford as well as a crew filming a promotional video for national exposure of the outing.

The idea for this trip came from Denise Julian, Watermark’s director of health services, and the late Seth Machak, who was a memory-impaired practitioner there.

Julian said that Machak, who wanted this “extraordinary trip” to take place, died on Feb. 23, 2013, after a sudden case of staph pneumonia.

“Through this outing we are continuing his vision and journey,” Julian said. “When we go to Washington, it is with Seth in our hearts. He was so loved by so many people. He would be thrilled the tour is happening and so am I.”

Jim Bain is Watermark’s director of food services as well as a former troop leader who has maintained an active role in Scouting. He said that one of the ideas behind the outing is that “these kinds of activities, uniting seniors with Boy Scouts through Bridging the Generations,” become a national movement.

“We’re pulling the generations together,” Bain said. “There’s certainly a lot the Scouts can learn and a lot that seniors can teach.”

Bain, who will also be a trip participant, said parents are “proud and excited” for their sons to go on the trip.

Jack Granja, 14, of Troop 158, said he is “very excited about going” and wants to learn from the seniors “what life was like when they were kids.”

Chris Ipellizzero, also 14, of Troop 58, looks at the trip “as an opportunity to give back to my community,” and that “the community supported me when I was becoming an

Eagle Scout. This trip is a way to pay it forward, and it will be cool to see D.C. through their eyes.”

Among the “cool” activities on the schedule are a birthday celebration for resident Mary Wood, who was born and raised in Washington, D.C., and hasn’t been there in a long time, and, for the Scouts, a personal tour of the U.S. Capitol led by Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn.

While this trip has been in the works for months, the future of the Bridging the Generations program has not been forgotten. Included in those plans has been the adoption of an “actual Boy Scout patch for this trip,” Bain said. “One half is the Watermark logo, the other half, the Scout logo.”

Bain has started talking to local councils about the bridging program.

“I will call different councils as people get interested,” he said. “‘Bridging the Generations’ is a special and important program to be involved with.”