A beautiful friendship

By Sophie McClellan ’19

I’ve had many amazing opportunities at Peddie, but perhaps none greater than living near Meadow Lakes senior living community, where I met a good friend of mine, Mrs. Isabel Sefton.

I met Mrs. Sefton last year after I learned about a volunteer opportunity at Meadow Lakes from Mr. Truslow, Peddie’s director of community and service. Mrs. Sefton’s family was looking for a Peddie student to visit with their mother once or twice a week to provide good company and do some basic tasks around her apartment, like organize paperwork and read the newspaper. Little did I know that this “housework” would turn into something that, despite our 82-year age gap, has evolved into a genuine friendship.

"If we have the chance to make someone's life better, we should jump at the opportunity."

It has been over a year now since our visits began. They still involve the usual scheduling of Mrs. Sefton’s week and organizing papers, but as we have grown more comfortable with each other, the visits have become increasingly full of laughter. (And gossip!)

Mrs. Sefton and I have more in common than I realized. She grew up in New York City, so after spending a day at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) with my art history class, I told her all about it. She remembered when the MoMA opened in 1929 and recalled how her parents allowed her to run free and explore the museum when she was 10 years old.

Sophie McClellan '19 and Isabel Sefton

Sophie McClellan '19 (right) said that she's more open-minded since meeting Sefton.

In addition to the amazing stories that she tells, I also get a glimpse into Mrs. Sefton’s life through the art that she keeps in her room. Every once in a while we will choose a painting that has been on the wall for a bit, and exchange it for a different work that she believes deserves to see the light of day. Though her vision has gotten worse since I first met her, Mrs. Sefton never complains, and instead explains that though she can’t see small details anymore, the colors and the presence of the art are what’s most important. Through Mrs. Sefton’s influence, I am more passionate about art and have become a more open-minded person.

I think about what my life would be like had I not responded to Mr. Truslow’s email last year. I would never have met Mrs. Sefton who makes my weeks so much more enjoyable. It’s nice to know that Mrs. Sefton enjoys me visiting as much as I enjoy her company.

When people ask me why I spend my free time at Meadow Lakes, my only response is, “Why not?” If we have the chance to make someone’s life better, we should jump at the opportunity. I hope that by following Peddie’s mission to strive for the highest quality of citizenship, we will all realize that the benefit of community service is not one-sided.

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