A few years back, Ed Koehler’s mother-in-law was a resident of Oakhurst Healthcare & Wellness Centre. After visiting her in the facility, Koehler and his wife vowed then and there to remember all the residents at Valentine’s Day. That was six years ago.
“It’s so important to do this,” Koehler, 85, member of the Lion’s Club said. “Our visits really do loosen the residents up a bit, and I’m so pleased to see our Leos come out and witness something that’s going to happen to them one day ... getting old ... it’s inevitable.”
Mountain Area Lions Clubs (Sierra and Bass Lake), as well as Yosemite High Leos, visited residents last Saturday, and they didn’t come empty-handed. There were roses and candy for staff, and a variety of small stuffed animals for residents filled a straw basket. While the young Leos visited with each resident, bunny Lily, and dogs Buttercup and Girlie did their parts, offering up some good lap-sitting, and furry heads ready for gentle petting.
“This is so great,” Activities Director Sharon Reeves said. “It stimulates memories of pets they’ve had, like Ms. Eunice, who used to raise rabbits. It stimulates conversation, some residents just said they had been affiliated with the Lions Club in the past .... and it makes the residents feel remembered and loved.”
Resident Beverly South was flooded with memories - of working as a secretary for Wasuma Elementary, and as the first ad salesperson for the Sierra Star nearly 50 years ago.
“These kids coming out here to visit us is a very nice thing,” South said. “It brings me back to those days when I was younger.”
The residents were not alone in their enjoyment.
“I love coming here to visit, and may look into volunteering,” Leo Carina Lusk said. “I’ve always had a soft spot for the elderly, ever since I was little.”
Her older sister, Helena Johnson-Lusk, a YHS senior, couldn’t agree more, saying, “This is such a great experience ... visiting and talking with the elderly ... I love seeing their faces light up when we walk in the room.”
“This is the most rewarding thing I do as a Lion,” President of Bass Lake Lions Club Chris Baker said. “Not only is it great for the Lions, but it teaches the kids some valuable lessons - like caring for older generations ... and seeing the joy it brings to the residents is very heart-warming.”