BEXLEY, Ohio (WCMH) — When you have lived for 99 years, some would say you know a thing or two. That is why some senior citizens at Bickford Senior Living of Bexley are participating in an effort to let current high school seniors know their accomplishment of graduating is not going unnoticed. The senior citizens, like Joe, are also offering high school seniors some advice.​

Joe grew up in Duluth, Minnesota and was set to graduate as part of the Central High School Class of 1940 when he joined the Navy. He was called up in November, so he did not walk across the stage with his classmates. ​

Instead, he was on a ship training to be a gunner when World War II broke out.

Joe says he sailed across the sea as part of a gun crew on a merchant ship crisscrossing the Atlantic Ocean. ​During one journey, he said his ship was attacked and he was injured from a torpedo blast. He received a Purple Heart, an American Defense Medal, and the European Defense Medal for serving during wartime.​

His advice to high school seniors was not sullied by his experiences.

“Respect their elders and respect their country,” Joe said. “If they can do it, serve their country.”

Other advice ranged from, “Just be yourself,” to “Travel the world,” to “Go to college and study anything and everything.” ​

Staff at the senior living facility interviewed the participating residents and took their picture as they held a placard with the year and school from which they graduated. Those pictures and some of the information from those interviews, along with the advice, were posted on Facebook as part of the facilities’ campaign called “Happy Graduation from Our Seniors to Yours.”​

Follow the stories at: #BickfordofBexleySeniors2020

“We’ve been doing this in May and we’ll also be doing it in June, because June typically is your graduation party season as well and some graduations still take place,” said Kaytlyn Schooley, Bickford Senior Living Community Relations Director and architect behind the program. “You never know who you might impact by that, and it’s such a great thing to know that you can shine a positive light in this kind of, you know, scary time right now.”​

The effort is doing more than simply reminding high school seniors that their accomplishments are being noticed. It is reminding senior citizens that the accomplishments in their lives are also noticed. It is providing them with an opportunity to share knowledge and stories that have built up over decades, during a time when interaction with others can be more difficult than ever before.​

“We look for every opportunity we can to engage our residents here, whether it’s in a socially distant safe group or being able to have these one-on-one conversations that are so important to them,” said Molly Britt, Director of Bickford Senior Living.

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