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Helping one another

Eileen JoyceHelena Kesselring (right) talks to Liz Ryan before helping her with a painting at Lutz Center Adult Day Services Friday.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

There’s a family spirit at the Lutz Center in Grass Valley that comes from people helping people.

“I think that’s what draws people here,” said Jim Poggi, Lutz Center Adult Day Services program manager.



“We’re painting flowers today,” activities director Taylor Kingsley said Friday. To inspire the group, Kingsley read “The Flowers,” a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson.




“What did you picture?” she asked.

Nellie Kolias steadied the hand of Lutz Center regular Joy Hemple and helped guide the paintbrush across the paper.

Kolias volunteers her time in the kitchen – cooking and washing dishes – but comes out to the dining room after meals are served and activities begin to help in any way she can.

“I like to come out and talk to them,” said Kolias, who doesn’t tell her age, but says she’s a senior and then some. “I have my favorites, of course, but I like to see their faces sparkle when you love and kiss them.”

Kolias said she gets a good feeling helping the elderly and disabled at Lutz Center. “And some day it will my turn,” she added.

The seniors who come to Lutz all have ailments brought on by old age.

But they, too, go out of their way to help others, said the 75- year-old Poggi. “We feel the thing that’s the most healing for all of us is to help each other.”

Sixty-seven-year-old Joyce Pfunder got out of her wheelchair to help calm another person who was having a bad day and didn’t want to paint flowers.

“Most of the time, I’m walking,” Pfunder said. “I don’t let the wheelchair slow me down.”

Pfunder sat down next to the man, took his hand, and tried to ease his restlessness.

“Joyce is like the mother hen of the place,” Kingsley said. “She loves and takes care of everyone.”

Pfunder has Parkinson’s disease and has bad days herself. “But she’s got a lot of courage, and she’s always cheerful and sweet,” Kingsley said. “She’s totally in her heart.”

Though the center encourages independence, Poggi said some need the assistance of their second-family sisters and brothers, who are always glad to help.

Those who can walk are more than happy to push the wheelchairs of those who can’t. Isabell Hacker – who gets around just fine and prefers to keep her age to herself – assists her wheelchair-using Lutz family members.

“I push them and do everything I can to help so they know they’re not alone.”

Poggi stressed that seniors helping seniors is done under the supervision of medical staff and nurses who are on the floor all the time to make sure they don’t overexert themselves.

Helena Kesselring is a newcomer to Lutz Center. “But I look forward to becoming part of the Lutz family,” she said while she painted.

Liz Ryan has been coming to Lutz Center for a long time.

“This is a big family. I love it here,” she said. “I have MS, but I try to help others.”


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