We've had to learn to do lot of things differently in the year 2020. The Richland High School dance team had to adjust as well, including how the team does community service.
"With the situation," explained RHS Dance Coach Wendy White, "we weren't able to do performances, or do parades, or meet people."
However, what 2020 hasn't changed: No matter who you are or what your age is, we all have something in common and can learn something from one another. What started off as a community service project turned into an unlikely friendship.
Struggling to find a way to get her dancers involved in the community, White thought to bring back the somewhat lost art of writing by connecting isolated teens with quarantined nursing home residents.
"I heard that a lot of seniors were feeling lonely," said White, "so I thought what a great way to bridge the gap of generations."
Each girl wrote 4-5 letters. White dropped the letters off. A couple months later, she asked the girls if anyone had gotten a letter back. Junior Justice Godfrey was the only one, and it was more than a couple letters.
Nursing home resident, Phyllis Prothero, was on the receiving end of one of the letters.
"I read it and it was obvious it was a younger person," said Prothero. "I thought it would be an elderly person, not that that mattered, but it was a younger person and I wasn't totally sure the gender or what grade or school because they didn't mention school."
Nevertheless, she responded and received a letter back. She sent another letter... And so on it went as Godfrey and Prothero became good ol' fashioned Pen Pals.
"She responded again," said Godfrey. "It thought it was so cool because I don't know anyone who does this. It's something to look forward to during these times. It's really cool to get to know someone, especially with such a big age different, ya know? But we also have a lot in common."
They connected over books and TV shows. They always talked about what they did that day and about life during quarantine.
"We both share what we're going through," said Prothero.
Prothero says she has a lung disease, which keeps her in isolation more so than other residents. Happily, she said that it's nice because she doesn't have to take out her trash, people will clean her room, and she can even have breakfast in bed.
"I'm going to miss this!" Prothero joked about when quarantine is over.
"She's taught me how to look at things in a more positive way," said Godfrey, "whether or not she realizes it."
Despite her cheerful demeanor, Prothero is kept away from the few friends she does have. She moved into the home about a year ago, so it's been a lot of changes in a short amount of time.
"It was just a nice time to receive it," said Prothero of the letter, "and I look at it as a blessing. She's just full of energy and it brightens my day."
Unlikely friends, but both finding each other during a time when genuine connections are few are far between... No matter what age.
"I think it's really cool actually that she's not my age," said Godfrey, "because she has a lot of experiences and a lot to talk about. It's good to talk to an older soul rather than just talking about little kid stuff."
This interview was their first time meeting face to face (learning the art of Zoom), but once it's safe, they say they hope to meet in person, perhaps over a pizza.