Fifteen residents of Candlewood Valley Health and Rehabilitation in New Milford recently traveled to the Glenholme School in Washington for lunch.

Students from Glenholme’s Transitions Program planned, prepared and served a special menu for their guests in the school’s café, The Commons.

Music was provided by Hunter W. on his ukulele during lunch and several Glenholme students visited with their guests.

After lunch, students and their guests participated in an impromptu sing along of “You Are My Sunshine” led by Candlewood resident Carl Heinemeyer on his harmonica.

According to Kathleen Horvath, recreation director at Candlewood Valley, these connections have a deep impact on residents.

Residents have a special relationship with the Glenholme School students, one that has existed for more than 15 years.

Students visit the center to run bingo each week, help with an annual fundraiser and help create holiday decorations.

In addition, residents come to Glenholme to watch theatrical productions.

Glenholme is a boarding and day school for youngsters ages 10-21 who have high functioning autism or other social, emotional and learning differences. Young adults on the autism spectrum and those with special needs often find transitioning to higher education and adult life challenging.

Glenholme’s Transitions provides a supportive environment for young men and women to seek advanced education or career development. Individuals have the opportunity to learn, practice, and master skills essential for success in college, work environments and social settings.

Ten students in the Transitions program. Eight of them are involved in the Commons “Food for Thought” program.

“Food for thought” is led by Andrew Kepics, a veteran of the restaurant business.

Students come twice weekly to the Commons to learn how to run restaurants from the front of the house to the back of the house.