“Crumb Crushers” have been visiting The Pierce House for more than 12 years. Crumb Crushers are second and third grade students from Mallett School in Farmington who visit their “buddies” at The Pierce House every other week. They were dubbed “crumb crushers” by a resident. 

The program was the brainchild of Mary Sue Hayden who retired after teaching 36 years at Mallett. “I became aware that many of my students had very little contact with older people, except for their parents. In fact some were actually afraid of them”, she said. 

“I decided to write a grant called ‘Caring in the Community’ . Its goal was to teach my students that friends come in all ages and packages,” Hayden said. “I had the kids for two years in a system called “looping”. In 10 years I taught five different groups.” When I started I had no idea what to expect. Some residents didn’t want to participate and that was O.K. Some of the children were standoffish in the beginning. I assigned buddies and they began to talk to each other, the residents telling children about their childhood. They played games and read books together and became friends. Some of the children even visited at other times or during the summer when school was out,” Hayden said. 

The program has continued recently under the leadership of Julia Hennessy. Students who participated in the program have graduated from high school. There was a contest during the Centennial Celebration of The Pierce House about their “buddy experience”. Winners were announced at the July 4th celebration of The Pierce House’s 100th birthday. 

In addition to these volunteers, the University of Maine at Farmington uses The Pierce House for practicum experiences for their psychology majors. They are under the supervision of Dr. Steven Quackenbush, a psychology professor. Students have brought a variety of gifts, such as skills in motion activities, computer activities, writing personal histories and others. 

Other volunteers work with residents throughout the year as they make handmade ornaments for their Christmas tree that will be auctioned off at The Festival of the Trees, sponsored by the Rotary Club. 

Click on Friends to read about this special group of volunteers who are a very constant presence in the life of The Pierce House.

Excerpts from the Special Supplement, Morning Sentinel, June 28, 2005; M.J. Kaniuka, Correspondent.