In the winter of 2012 Sweet Reader sibling and Chapin student Livvy H. brought the concept of Sweet Readers to Chapin and Trude. By then we had already begun partnerships with several major museums, a network of elder care residences, and schools in Manhattan, Greenwich and Bethesda; what we hadn’t yet discovered, however, was how deep and broad Sweet Readers could go. Trude helped us to recognize that we weren’t just creating programs; with exuberant Ambassadors like Trude, we were building and bridging communities.
Trude took on Sweet Readers with boundless energy and determination. She quickly gained the support of the entire administration and after exploring possibilities for each middle school grade, enlisted all of the fifth grade advisors and by the fall of 2013 we were training the entire Chapin fifth graders and all of their advisors.
Trude became a trusted advisor to Sweet Readers giving us clear and unveiled guidance throughout our early growth. The care Trude gave to Sweet Readers and to building a community around our work was remarkable and deeply successful as Trude invited board members, alumni, staff and parents into the program sessions, developing vested stakeholders and strengthening their awareness of Alzheimer’s and the power of young people to impact a life for the better. Internally, Trude helped foster a sense of community around the work by creating large collages throughout the school, celebrating the engagement of the Chapin Sweet Readers.
Trude also helped develop validation, praise and gratitude around the work, giving Chapin Sweet Readers opportunities to share their experiences at assemblies, PA meetings and board meetings and also inspiring the Sweet Readers to bring handmade notes and poems of gratitude to their adult partners. Indeed, when Sweet Readers co-founder Grandma Dorothy passed away, within 24 hours Trude hand delivered a heartwarming card signed by three years of Sweet Readers. With Trude’s help, we developed the concept of “passing the baton”, to empower Sweet Readers to take a leadership role in the training of their peers.
By the spring of 2014, with Trude’s leadership, Chapin hosted our first large community event, The Memory Olympics, which brought together hundreds of students and faculty from 10 school partners including Chapin. Like all of her endeavors, Trude prepared the Sweet Readers meticulously for the event and even inspired the school to add more brain science to their 5th grade curriculum.
During the course of our partnership, Trude has also fallen love, married and become a mother. In the process, Trude has developed sustainability systems within Chapin ensuring that as her position grew within the school and indeed, as she stepped aside to give birth to her first child, Chapin Sweet Readers continues to flourish having bridged their own growing community with the residents at 80th Street Residence where every Tuesday morning, so many people, both young and old, are lit up with renewed purpose and joy and empowered as they each impact a life for the better.
We are so deeply grateful to Trude!