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Rolling fun into a day’s work

Life can be a circus at the Oregon Veterans’ Home, and that is a good thing for residents, who get to enjoy social time and entertainment. Above, Murray Kaufman, an Army veteran, sits back to enjoy a conversation and snack with visitors.

Contributed photo
Life can be a circus at the Oregon Veterans’ Home, and that is a good thing for residents, who get to enjoy social time and entertainment. Above, Murray Kaufman, an Army veteran, sits back to enjoy a conversation and snack with visitors.



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Lois Foust, spouse of a veteran, tries out a new hairstyle.

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Gene Koch, a Navy veteran, shows off his new “stache.”

Lend OVH a helping hand

The Oregon Veterans’ Home invites community members to support former military personnel and their spouses by donating items from the following “Wish List:”

•   Newspaper Subscriptions (The Dalles Chronicle offers a discount for subscriptions purchased for residents.)

•   Woodworking supplies

•   Individually packaged snacks: microwave popcorn, cookies, doughnuts, flavored coffee creamers and soda pop

•   Toiletry items (unused): aftershave, lotion, hairspray, shampoo & conditioner

•   CD players/radios (portable), music CDs

•   DVD/Blu-Ray players

•   Sweatpants: sizes M / L / XL / 2XL / 3XL & 4XL (sweatshirts not needed)

•   Large dominoes

•   Birthday supplies (balloons, string, signs)

•   Large-piece puzzles (under 300 pieces)

•   Gardening supplies

•   Trivia books

•   Batteries, (AA, AAA, C, D)

•   Phone cards

•   Non-alcoholic beer (O’Doul’s, Coors Cutter, etc.)

•   Electric razors

•   Hearing aid batteries

•   Travel documentaries

•   “Forever” postage stamps

Every day is a party for the 15 employees who organize events, outings and activities for residents of the Oregon Veterans’ Home.

“This is the best job I’ve ever had,” said Elizabeth Glanden while digging through a costume box to find a crown that would make her a Queen for the day. “We always have fun, this is a great group of people to work with.”

Linda Beiter said being able to give back to former military personnel is the most rewarding part of the job.

“It’s an honor to serve those who have served,” she said. “Sometimes we are having so much fun that I’d rather be here than home.”

This is National Activity Professionals Week and Jade Lange, recreation director at OVH, has spent it thanking her staff for embracing their mission to enrich the lives of veterans and their spouses.

“I think the biggest thing for me was realizing that we can help everyone feel unique, important and useful,” said Lange, who has been with OVH for 15 years.

“If you keep them busy doing things, they’ll be happy and have a good quality of life.”

There are up to 150 residents at OVH, which is located at 700 Veterans Drive in The Dalles. Lange’s responsibility is to provide them with opportunities to engage socially, learn new things and be entertained.

The list of activities available on a regular basis is long, and includes bingo, baking, delivering mail, filling birdfeeders, going on scenic drives and shopping trips.

During the warmer months of the year, residents can garden, fish and take part in a variety of outdoor activities.

There are weekly luncheons at different restaurants in and around town or in neighboring communities.

Occasional casino nights are very festive, as are the random carnivals.

In addition, Lange is scheduling a wealth of special events in 2018 in an effort to give residents, and more than 200 employees, an added morale boost:

February

Residents will be able to enjoy pizza, popcorn and drinks at a Super Bowl party on Feb. 4. The Philadelphia Eagles take on the New England Patriots, so the atmosphere will be full of good-natured competition, said Lange.

On Feb. 16, Urban Paper and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2471 have partnered to host a Paint Nite, a time when residents get together and spend a couple of hours creating a masterpiece.

An Elvis impersonator performs on Feb. 23.

March

Residents are invited to don green and join the St. Patrick’s Day party March 17. The event offers non-alcoholic green drinks, snacks and merriment to the music of Ted Horowitz.

Classical guitarist Michael Baker plays for the senior crowd on March 22.

Henrik Bothe provides a comedy, magic, and juggling show on March 23.

April

An Andrews Sisters tribute group, known as “Misbehavin,” takes the stage April 13.

“Bunnies & Baskets” delights residents on April 17. The therapy-trained furry animals will be available for residents to cuddle.

Classic Carriages takes residents back in time with horse-drawn buggy rides April 21. Also on April 21, Renken Farms brings in a petting zoo that includes goats and other farm animals.

On April 27, residents will ride in the annual Northwest Cherry Festival parade, organized by The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce.

May

Lange said activities are in the planning stages for National Nursing Home Week, May 13-19. The date for the party has not yet been set but the event is expected to include games, food, prizes and other fun-filled moments for staff and residents.

On Mother’s Day, May 13, a special tea will be held for female residents and their families. Flowers and snacks will be provided.

The All Alaskan Racing Pigs, a team of the fastest and funniest athletes around, will provide hilarity in either May or June — Lange said the date of their appearance is still being decided.

June

Father’s Day will be celebrated on June 17 with pizza and games.

The “Oregon Bird Man,” zoologist and wildlife educator Karl Anderson, brings 30 of his feathered friends for a show on June 29.

July

Independence Day is commemorated July 4 with a birthday party for America that features a hot dog feed, popcorn, music and other festivities.

Singer/dancer Nehemiah Brown is on deck for July 6.

Hawaiian dancers demonstrate cultural moves July 20.

August

An auction of boxes that contain differing amounts of money, from a quarter to $20, takes place sometime in August. Residents are given $1,000 in “auction money” to take a chance for big winnings on the boxes, which are sealed.

Because Lange will be on maternity leave following the birth of her second child in July, other activities will be planned by her staff in August and September.

However, she has already scheduled the Colorful Kite Festival for Sept. 28.

October

A Marilyn Monroe impersonator comes to OVH at an unspecified date. Food and music will be offered at a Red Carpet Party.

Community members are invited to the annual Fall Bazaar on Oct. 27 to find treasure of all kinds. Vendors wanting to participate are invited to call Lange at 541-296-7190, ext. 242.

Area children can trick-or-treat at OVH on Oct. 31. The Halloween party features a variety of family-friendly activities, such as face painting, although details are not yet complete.

November

Veterans’ Day, Nov. 11, will be observed with residents participating in the annual parade organized by the Mid-Columbia Veterans Memorial Committee. They will also be present at the potluck in OVH’s community room that is organized by VFW Post 2471 and Auxiliary.

A Thanksgiving banquet is planned Nov. 22 for residents and their family.

December

The schedule of residents is busy in December with holiday happenings, including an American Legion Auxiliary gift shop, where veterans can come and shop for items that are wrapped and shipped for up to four family members.

The Bonneville Power Administration and VFW make sure each resident receives a Christmas present, said Lange.

She said area schools send carolers and there are plenty of other special entertainments.

She said volunteers are always needed to help out during that time, as well as the July 4 party.

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National Activity Professionals Week was celebrated Monday at the Oregon Veterans’ Home with the same impromptu spirit that is focused on entertaining residents year-round. Pictured back row, from left, are: Brenda Conner, Joyce May, Sheri Lane and Linda Beiter. In the front row, from left, are: Thomas Burnett, Elizabeth Glanden, Jade Lange, Chris Haugen and Rebecca Giles.

However, she said the holidays are not the only time that residents need assistance or just someone to talk to, that is an everyday concern.

Opportunities for volunteers range from assisting with outings to labeling and mending clothing and organizing the library and supply areas, or working in the gift shop.

Without having contact with someone who cares, Lange said seniors, especially those without families, can fall into depression. Volunteers must sign confidential statements and undergo a criminal background check.

They must also agree to treat staff, residents and their guests with “safety, honor, integrity, respect, trust and professionalism.”

For more information about volunteering at OVH, call Chris Haugen, who coordinates the program, at 541-296-7190, ext. 272.



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