By KRYSTI SHALLENBERGER
Teenagers and the elderly generally don’t spring to mind as close friends, unless in a Dennis-the-Menace relationship. However, that’s not the case with the Boy Scouts of Troop 119 and residents of Somerby at St. Vincent’s One Nineteen retirement community on the Somerby Tailwagger Treats project.
“It’s kind of an inter-generational thing,” said Andrew Tucker, who spearheaded the project. “We learn a lot from them, and they tell us stories about their lives. “
Since April the boy scouts and Somerby residents have baked homemade dog treats together for Shelby and Jefferson County animal shelters.
If you walk into the Tailgwaggers suite at Somerby on a Tuesday night, you’ll see Boy Scouts hovered in the kitchen, supervised by Andrew, mixing dough and putting treats in the oven.
In the next room, the scouts take turns working with residents to knead the dough and cut out the treats with bone-shaped cookie cutters. Resident Erika Herda gives the boys tips for cooking as she kneads the dough with experienced hands. Steven Day and Clinton Garrett, who had never stepped foot in a kitchen before the Somerby Tailwaggers, cut out the treats as well.
Garret hands trays of bone-shaped treats to the boys to put in the oven. Coco, a Shi Tzu, keeps the group company and taste tests from a fire-hydrant-shaped cookie jar.
When the scouts come to Somerby, respect is mutual. The residents ask the boys about school and enjoy hearing about their lives, and the boys hear the residents’ life stories.
The group’s goal was to make a total of 5,000 treats by the end of the summer, but they surpassed their goal in three weeks. So far, the total stands at 12,185.
In the future, the 20 boys in Troop 119 hope to expand their treats to cats, and other animals, as well as expand their operation past state lines.
The project started small in the spring, however.
“We were looking for another project,” Andrew said, “We’ve worked with Somerby Residence before and after the tornados, we wanted to do help out the animal shelters in Jefferson and Shelby Counties.”
Andrew looked up recipes online and coordinated with the staff of Somerby Residence, Sara Thorne Davis, head of the Masterpiece Living program, and Marianne Sharbel of Somerby to set up a place and time to meet with the residents to bake dog treats.
“I never really cooked before except over a campfire and breakfast,” he said. Nor had several residents ever cooked before, but now they all work together to make treats for animals in their community.
Troop 119, headed by Greg Tucker, father of scouts Andrew and Alex Tucker, is affiliated with Brook Hills Church.