No generation gap was evident on Saturday as young people from the Neosho Youth Volunteer Program did their first community outreach event on Saturday at Spring Hill Assisted Living in Neosho.

No generation gap was evident on Saturday as young people from the Neosho Youth Volunteer Program did their first community outreach event on Saturday at Spring Hill Assisted Living in Neosho.

The new organization, founded earlier this year by Tandy Bressler, has grown to include about two dozen youth ranging from second grade to high school seniors.

A number of Spring Hill residents joined with the youth for a painting activity that all ages appeared to enjoy. Each participant, youth and elder, received a blank canvas and could choose the colors of paint they wanted to use to create their artwork.

A few local Boy Scouts have teamed up with the Neosho Youth Volunteer Program and were on hand Saturday. Ten-year-old Jacoby Swift and high school junior Austin Burns, both of Neosho, shared a table with Sandra Billam, one of the residents at Spring Hill.

Billam is an area native but said she'd been gone for around 50 years before she returned to Neosho. In the meantime, she lived in Dallas, Mc Alester and Tulsa, Okla., among other locations. She's also toured England and Europe with her son.

Billam chose to paint flowers, a favorite of hers, on her canvas in bright shades.

"I'm artistic," Billam said. "Any time there's something artistic going on here, I want to do it."

Billam also finds a creative outlet using colored pencils with adult coloring books, something that has gained in popularity in the past few years.

"I used to do those paint by numbers too," she said. "I like to dabble."

Since participants could keep their artwork once it had dried, Billam thought she might hang hers in her room, if she can find the space.

Swift asked her what life was like when Billam was ten and she shared some memories.

"We lived on a farm," she said. "We didn't have any near neighbors so we made our own fun."

One of the activities Billam enjoyed was watching clouds and making up stories about the shapes she saw in them. "We used to lay in the yard on a blanket and watch clouds go by," she recalled.

She also remembers learning to sew when she was 4 years old on her grandmother's old treadle machine and in the past Billam has made a few quilts. She recalled one in particular that she made in 1976, the year of America's Bicentennial, with a Liberty Bell theme that was auctioned off as a part of a fund raiser in Oklahoma.

If another chance to paint and visit with youth comes her way, Billam said she would definitely do it.

Bressler said the event was a success with a great turnout. Some of the you who participated were first timers and she provided them with the necessary paperwork including a release for parents to sign.

Once school starts, Bressler expects numbers in the group to increase. She plans to visit each school campus talking with kids from second graders on up through seniors in high school.

"We've already got the wrestling team and football team," she said.

Membership in the Youth Volunteer Program is always free. Although Bressler will have the forms to hand out when she visits local schools, they can also be picked up at the Neosho Family Y, Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce office, at Neosho City Hall and at the Price Cutter Supermarket.

Bressler plans similar painting events for Oak Pointe in September and in the near future at Medicalodge as well.

Participants of all ages wore smiles on Saturday as they build new friendships and created artwork thy can display with pride.