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Atascadero reading program brings kids and seniors together 


Readers and Residents getting acquainted

Children and readers of all ages read their favorite books to residents at Ingleside Assisted Living

-At 10:30 am Saturday morning the common room at the Ingleside Assisted Living in Atascadero is filled with the hum of young people reading and conversation between the readers and residents. Children and readers of all ages arrived carrying their favorite books to read aloud and visit with the residents.

Bringing kids and seniors together is the brainchild of Ingleside’s Activities Coordinator, Monica Firchow. “I just thought that bringing different generations together would benefit everyone,” said Firchow. “The children get to interact with senior citizens in a different way than they normally do and the residents just love the attention.”

Monica Firchow and Shirley Barratt.

Monica Firchow and Shirley Barratt.

Ingleside Assisted Living is one of three assisted living homes operated by Shirley and Randy Barratt. “The other two are near by,” said Firchow “and we bring those residents over here for the reading program. Everyone looks forward to it and sometimes the seniors will read to the children or tell them stories.”

Shirley Barratt said she is very excited about the program. “We had something similar when I was doing missionary work in India,” said Barratt. “The elder care home and an orphanage were next door to each other. We used to watch the children and elders greeting each other through the fence. The staff got together and set it up so that the elders would read bedtime stories to the children. I was thrilled when Monica proposed this idea here.”

Diane Fritz, a retired school teacher living at Ingleside, said she thinks the program is “very important,” and enjoys listening to the children reading. “I only taught middle school in the LA area and missed the opportunity to teach the little ones.” Fritz said she thinks the “Atascadero area has very good schools.”Diane Fritz

Thirteen year old Justice Young from Atascadero was reading to residents for her first time. “I really like doing this,” said Young, “and I’ll be back as much as I can.” Young’s mother, Sarah, said, “This program is wonderful and I’m so proud of Justice for doing this.”

“The original idea was to bring children and seniors together,” said Firchow, “but so many of all ages are interested in participating that we decided to open it up so anyone who wants to read can come” Firchow is planning on reaching out to the schools and libraries. “I see the libraries featuring books for this program that families can check out and bring with them.”

The reading program is on the third Saturday of the month from 10:30 – 11:30, followed by refreshments. “Bring one or more of your favorite books. The colorful books with lots of pictures seem to be favorites. We have some books here as well,” said Firchow. “We also accept donations of new and gently read books.” To volunteer to read, or for more information, call Firchow at Ingleside Assisted Living at (805) 460-6541. Learn more about Ingleside Assisted Living on Facebook.

About the author: News Staff

News staff of the A-Town Daily News wrote and edited this article from local contributors and press releases. Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on , Twitter, LinkedIn, or follow his blog. He can be reached at

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