VA recreation therapist guest speaker at GK meeting

By Orice Walters

For The Daily News

KINGSFORD – The Golden K bell sounded and chairman Bob Tachik started the weekly club meeting on Aug. 11. It was another good day of happy faces, sunshine and joyful singing along with an interesting program.

Guests were welcomed with the GK guest song. Guests included the program speaker Janet Bauer-Green from the Oscar Johnson VA Hospital. Also present was Steve Osieczonek of California who was introduced by Dr. Paul Jacobs. Steve and Dr. Paul were both youthful ski jumpers at Pine Mountain.

The GKrs are happy to have the 2014 Skiers Hall of Fame nominee, Dr. Paul Jacob, as an active member of the Dickinson Area Golden K Club. Congratulations Dr. Paul from all your GK Friends.

Happy Birthday was sung for GK music director Margaret Trudell celebrating her 39th birthday on Aug. 13. Happy Anniversary was then sung for Harlan and Orice Walters celebrating 63 years of wedded bliss on Aug. 17.

Program chairman Don Williamson said the prayer before refreshments and offered a Thought for the Day, “A married man should forget his mistakes; there is no point in two people remembering the same thing.”

Marty Waananen was again the 50/50 winner. Lucky guy.

Co-chairman Harlan Walters updated promotion of the GK peanut fund-raiser.

Captains will get their supplies needed at the meeting on Aug. 25. The fund-raiser begins on Thursday, Aug. 28 to Aug. 30 at area stores.

Don Pedo was really happy to hold a mitt full of Happy Dollars while he read why so many GKrs are happy. Many are happy for a great day, just happy to be a part of a great group, happy for good health and GK grandparents for their grandchildren’s good fortunes. Bill Roberts was happy to announce his granddaughter, Laura passed her MN Board Exam as a registered nurse. The Walters were happy for their two granddaughters, Tori and Janay, whose Kingsford High School girls travel softball team won the Niagara tournament this weekend and Janay hit an out of the fence home run. LaVerne and Al Calcari are happy to have son and grandson visiting them.

Program chairman Don Williamson introduced the day’s speaker Janet Bauer-Green who is the recreation therapist at the Oscar G. Johnson Veterans Medical Center in Iron Mountain.

Janet gave a brief background of her education and work and how it was she came to work at the Oscar G. Johnson Veterans Hospital in Iron Mountain. She has a bachelor of science degree, has furthered her education at Northern Michigan University, her master of art’s from Western Michigan University. She worked at North Chicago VA and transferred to Iron Mountain VA as recreation therapist in their VA Community Resident Center.

We learned that there are 45 units and 10 to 12 long term service connectors at the Oscar Johnson Veterans Hospital. There are four to five hospice bed care for terminally ill veterans to help make them more comfortable.

She said some patients come in for what she calls “tune up.” Doctors may adjust medications, to assess, prescribe treatment and a lot of little things that might be needed.

The goal of recreation therapists is to improve mental, physical, and emotional and social functioning of the patients to enhance the quality of their everyday living.

They offer different group activities such as music activities, cooking foods like pizza or hobo pasties, and small group activities such as board games, bingo, playing cards, cribbage, even Wii games/sports and other computer games.

They provide interaction activities such as bocce ball.

Pet therapy with well-trained dogs brought in by volunteers, which offers comfort, companionship, and socialization for the patients.

Several events and outings are provided. Some of the outings have been to the circus, rodeo, Out to lunch, color tour, Glider Museum, picnics, fishing and the list goes on and on. Volunteers are needed and very much a part of recreation therapy.

An activity calendar shows a month full of different activities happening several times a day; even a gardening program and wheel chair swings.

A very nice monthly newsletter titled “Wheels, Walks, and Words” from the Oscar G. Johnson Community Living Center has become available through the talents of two volunteers, Tracy Blagec and Pert Peterson. Copies of the newsletter were passed around for everyone to look at. It is very nicely put together.

Janet described the VA Community Living Center and recreation and leisure like this. “It’s purpose is not to kill time, but to make time to live; not to keep people occupied, to keep them refreshed, not to offer an escape from life, but to provide a discovery of Life.”

The VA Community Living Center identifies and treats the veterans’ human responses to health and illness in a compassionate manner.

Our thanks to Janet for explaining to us what a recreation therapist does.

The Aug. 18 Golden K meeting will have Marty Waananen as program chairman.

Daniel Truckey, director of the Heritage Museum of Northern Michigan University, will be the speaker.

Visitors are asked to come early if they like to sing fun songs prior to the GK meeting that starts at exactly 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Presbyterian Church on Hamilton Ave. of Kingsford.

The GK singers known as the Golden Throats will be singing at Freeman’s on Wednesday, Aug. 20 at 2 p.m. Bingo is also being provided by GK at two of the nursing homes this week. Visitors are very welcome to GK every Monday morning, all year long except major holidays. Golden K is part of the Retired Senior Volunteer program and welcomes new members.