Pics of these unlikely friends meeting for the first time have blown up the internet.

If you saw Spencer Sleyon and Rosalind “Roz” Guttman walking down the street together, you probably wouldn't assume they're BFFs.

Make no mistake, however. Sleyon, a 22-year-old rapper who lives in Harlem, and Guttman, an 81-year-old who lives in Florida, really are two peas in a pod.

And on Dec. 1, they finally got to meet in person.

Photos by Amy Butler, with permission.


Their unlikely friendship started in the summer of 2016.

Sleyon and Guttman met while facing off on Words with Friends, a Scrabble-like game people can play on their phones against strangers near and far. They both enjoyed playing one another, Sleyon explains, so it was only a matter of time before they were both knocking out several rounds every day.

Because the game is connected through Facebook, both Sleyon and Guttman knew who they were competing against and soon began chatting online. Before long, the conversation turned from the game to things happening in the real world.

“2016 was such a big year for politics and hurricanes — stuff like that," Sleyon says of the types of topics they'd discuss, noting he'd also chat with her about his music. "We talked about literally just anything.”

When Sleyon got particularly busy last year, however, he had to get rid of the app.

“I told her, 'my life is pretty busy right now, I don’t have time to play every day consistently,'" Sleyon says of saying goodbye. "'But if there was some advice you could give me about life, what would it be?' And she told me, 'Always reach for the stars.'”

The inspiring message stuck with him.

Months later, he decided to download the app again, after life got a little less hectic. It was then that his friend's mom, Amy Butler — senior minister at NYC's Riverside Church — learned about Sleyon's interstate friendship.

“I was telling Pastor Amy [about Guttman], and she couldn’t believe it," Sleyon says. "She wanted to write a sermon on it.”

A few weeks after that, Butler surprised Sleyon with a trip to Florida to finally meet Guttman in person.

And, as the pics show, their meeting did not disappoint.

“She was awesome," Sleyon says of finally getting to meet Guttman. "I’ve worked in grocery stores and stuff, so I’ve been friendly with older people in person. And that ’s honestly what it felt like — like I just saw someone from the neighborhood. That’s why I was really happy.”

“It ended up becoming a true friendship.”

After Sleyon tweeted about the experience, the internet went wild.

In just a few days, the photos of Guttman and Sleyon received over one million likes and over 230,000 retweets.

Even Frank Gibeau, the CEO of Zynga, the developer of Words with Friends, heard about Sleyon and Guttman's friendship: “Spencer and Roz’s story is a wonderful illustration of how powerful games can be in bringing people together across generations and geographies," he said in a statement.  

The tweet's thread is filled with moving messages, too, reflecting how much seeing the photos and learning Sleyon's story has meant to so many people.

"This is the kinda thing I wanna see in America," one user wrote. "Not the negative stuff that’s talked about on a daily basis."

Sleyon's not exactly sure why the photos have spread so far and wide, but he believes seeing people from very different walks of life befriending one another has something to do with it.

“The state our country is in right now — there’s a huge racial divide," he explains. "I saw a lot of people saying they needed a story like this."

For now, he's just grateful his story is putting smiles on faces.

“For 81, I’ll tell you, she’s full of life," Sleyon says. "I can only say positive things about her.”

Photo courtesy of Macy's
True

Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

Anissa Rivera is one of those mentors. Rivera is a recent Program Manager at the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc., a nonprofit focusing on the holistic development of girls ages 5-18. The goal of the organization is to provide a safe space for girls to develop long-lasting mentoring relationships and build the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to thrive now and as adults.

Rivera spent years of her career working within the themes of self and community empowerment with young people — encouraging them to tap into their full potential. Her passion for youth development and female empowerment eventually led her to Girls Inc., where she served as an agent of positive change helping to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

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Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

Who runs the world? Girls!

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Over the past six years, it feels like race relations have been on the decline in the U.S. We've lived through Donald Trump's appeals to America's racist underbelly. The nation has endured countless murders of unarmed Black people by police. We've also been bombarded with viral videos of people calling the police on people of color for simply going about their daily lives.

Earlier this year there was a series of incidents in which Asian-Americans were the targets of racist attacks inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Given all that we've seen in the past half-decade, it makes sense for many to believe that race relations in the U.S. are on the decline.

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Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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