When she turned 98, Mabel was asked what would enhance her already long life. Not a wish for something material -- like a new sweater -- but a wish for an experience she'd enjoy. Maybe something she'd never done before. After giving the matter considerable thought, she said, "I wish to fly an airplane." Asked what he'd wish for, 76-year-old Michael knew exactly what he wanted to do. Without a moment's hesitation, he said he'd love to restore a 1956 Ford pickup truck.
Mabel's wish was granted last year as she soared through Colorado skies alongside an accommodating pilot who let her take a spin at the controls. Michael's wish hasn't been fulfilled -- not yet anyway.
Mabel and Michael are two Western Slope senior citizens whose heartfelt golden-year wishes are summarized in a five-minute video called 'Wish Granting.' The video was created by the Senior CommUnity Care PACE program which is part of Volunteers of America (VOA). In developing the video the goal of PACE (which stands for 'program of all-inclusive care for the elderly') was to promote the organization's newest innovation in providing alternative programming to area seniors.
The idea to interview seniors and strive to grant their wishes came about when Senior CommUnity Care was considering how to enhance the lives of the organization's participants while making the best use of their limited program resources.
Erin Berge is regional marketing director for VOA and Lori Lenhart is outreach and enrollment manager for Senior CommUnity Care PACE. Erin and Lori work jointly along with an internal committee to organize fundraising efforts. For five years, Senior CommUnity Care has been raising funds through Montrose-based music concerts to provide outdoor adventure programs for seniors in both Montrose and Delta counties. The outdoor programs have included trips to Blue Mesa Reservoir, a ride on the Durango-Silverton Railway, and jeep tours to see autumn colors. This year, in addition to trips, Erin and Lori have teamed up to explore the 'wish granting' initiative.
They conducted interviews among seniors to generate wish ideas and collected images including special portraits and additional photography by Mike Boese of Peak Life Photography in Montrose. The response from seniors was touching and a little overwhelming. More than two dozen seniors are included in the promotional video. So far, three wishes have been granted: Mabel has gone flying, Arlene got to enjoy a day of casino gambling, and Rosie got to take a long-delayed train ride.
The others are still waiting. In addition to the wishers and wishes pictured, some of the yet to be fulfilled wishes by seniors are:
• Ride a zipline;
• See the geysers in Yellowstone;
• See my grandkids in Kentucky;
• Mentor young people;
• Drive the California coast;
• Do a police ride-along;
• Attend a choral concert;
• Go to a horse race;
• See a professional tennis match; and
• See my sister before my eyesight fails.
The official wish granting program kicks off on Sept. 1. Senior CommUnity Care participants can submit their wish request through an application process. A committee will review applications and schedule wishes as appropriate. Selected requests will be granted until the organization's limited funds are depleted.
Want to get involved in the wishing granting program? Here are four ways:
• Contact Senior CommUnity Care and ask to have a representative come to show the 'Granting Wishes' video to your club, business, or church. To schedule call Lori Lenhert at (970) 417-5670
• Join with other generous sponsors to support the organization's annual 'Age Out Loud' concert. The major sponsors for 2018 included Delta County and Montrose Memorial Hospitals, Alpine Bank, KREX Channel 5, KVNF, Stryker & Company, TEI Rock Drills, Montrose Daily Press, Horizons Healthcare, the Beacon, and Cherry Creek Media.
• Step up to donate in-kind services that fulfill a senior's wish.
• Make a cash contribution to the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization by sending a check to: Senior CommUnity Care, 11485-Highway 65, Eckert, CO 81418.
According to its website, the VOA was founded 122 years ago and today it "is one of the nation's largest and most comprehensive human services organizations, touching the lives of almost 1.3 million people each year in hundreds of communities across the United States."
In Western Colorado the organization operates two senior day centers, one in Montrose and the other in Eckert. Eligible seniors in Delta and Montrose counties participate in a host of services offered by Senior CommUnity Care. The organization's main goal is to provide services that help seniors remain in their homes. Therefore the day centers are not residential facilities. Instead they offer medical, dental, hearing, and vision services as well as outreach home care, sending personnel to help seniors with tasks such as dressing, light housekeeping, meal preparation, and grocery shopping. The centers also provide transportation to medical appointments, a place to meet for lunch, and opportunities to take part in programs and activities that facilitate socialization and enhance experience.
To raise programming funds for outdoor adventure trips and the wish granting program, Senior CommUnity Care hosts an annual 'Age Out Loud' music concert. Though the concert is held in Montrose, the funds raised are used to serve participants in both Montrose and Delta counties. This year the organization staged its most ambitious event -- a May concert featuring legendary Denver jazz and blues performer Hazel Miller. Next year's concert is scheduled at the Montrose Pavilion on May 10, 2019. Miller will again be the headliner in the 2019 concert. For information call 970-417-5670.