Bridging the generation gap

He moved to Halfmoon more than 20 years ago. He was an optometrist and in his spare time enjoyed making miniature glasses out of his patient's old glasses, according to Pettis. She said Kent was also a cartoonist.

Now 88, Kent still enjoys exercising and visiting the Halfmoon Senior Center, where he has been a member for more than 10 years.

Semanek, 87, fondly known as Toni, was born in Leningrad, Russia, where as a child she learned to speak English, German and Russian.

In 1941, when Germany invaded Russia, Semanek was 20 years old. She was taken to a forced labor camp with her sister Sonia, where she was used as an interpreter because of her knowledge of different languages.

While Semanek does not know what happened to her parents or another sister, Ann, she was able to escape to the United States when her sister Sonia married an American soldier who sponsored Semanek's move to the states.

Her 14 year-old brother was killed by shrapnel during World War II.

Semanek lived in Binghamton before moving to Halfmoon in 1985 to be closer to her son, Paul.

She is active with the Senior Center's lunch program, often setting the tables and serving the food. She has been with the Senior Center since its establishment more than 20 years ago.

Semanek was the recipient of the Capital District Senior Issues Forum Senior Lifetime Achievement Award.

Michaels, 83, was hidden in her basement for several years after Germany invaded Italy during World War II. She was 14 years old at the time, according to Pettis.

Michaels joked that the basement was unlike the finished ones the children are used to seeing.

Michaels met her husband, John, following the war, Pettis said.

She learned to speak English through the American Red Cross before immigrating to the United States.

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