Culinary Students from Whittier Tech feed 100 at luncheon to celebrate Supportive Housing for the elderly
AMESBURY - Regan Milmore and Brittany Kuse love walking into a bare function hall and transforming it into an elegant dining room and serving sumptuous food to match.
The two seniors at Whittier Tech more than proved themselves as they co-managed a meal for 100 at Heritage Towers, sharing the responsibility of coordinating the 10th Anniversary Celebration of Supportive Housing for the elderly, an event which also included state officials as guests.
"It's a little nerve-wracking," said Brittany, 17, of Amesbury. "But it feels great when everything goes well."
Earlier, ten culinary arts students prepared the chicken parmesan feast at school with their instructors then transported it to the elderly housing complex in Amesbury. Along with the trays of chicken, pasta and salad, that included hauling in cases of centerpiece flowers, table linens, and large coffee urns. Four seniors studying health occupations were also on hand to assist the elderly and chat with them during the meal.
With less than 30 minutes to prepare, and the elderly already gathering outside the doors, Regan and Brittany quickly split up the many jobs among students, from unfurling tablecloths to unwrapping dinner rolls.
"We made an entire agenda that nobody followed," joked Regan. "But everyone pitched in and it all got done."
When the meal was over and the students were introduced by Whittier Superintendent William DeRosa, the crowd erupted in cheers and applause.
Bob Mazzone, director of Amesbury Housing Authority said he could not be more pleased. "We have a wonderful relationship with Whittier. When you see these kids and the elders together with 70 years in age between them, you realize we're blessed. We are taking care of people and improving their lives." He said he hopes to regularly involve Whittier health occupations students with the residents.
"I'm elated," said Geannina Guzman-Scanlon, the resident coordinator of supportive services. "It's a wonderful intergenerational event where students can practice their skills and the elderly feel cared for. It enriches everyone."
The supportive housing environment at Heritage Towers means residents of the low income apartment complex receive services similar to an assisted-living facility. Amesbury is one of 32 cities and towns in the state which employs the state-run program.
Supt. DeRosa promised the elderly he would arrange for them to visit Whittier where they can tour the school and have lunch at the restaurant The Poet's Inn.
Rep. Michael Costello told the crowd, "We have a great school here in Whittier Tech. Everyone was well-fed today by their crew. What an amazing thing. We have the future iron chefs right here."
Brittany stood against a back wall and grinned. "I like promoting our school," she said. "Some people still have the wrong idea about tech schools."