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A love story to remember

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. (February 2016) — Bill Gunther can still remember the first time he saw Annemarie. He was an American soldier in Germany; she was a German citizen. He heard about her from his family; they met her while she was visiting relatives in America. He had traveled 20 minutes by train to reach her German hometown, and when he started down the stairs, he spotted her. When he closes his eyes, he can still see that moment. “I can still picture her standing at the bottom of the stairs in the train station,” he said. Today, they have been married nearly 60 years — they tied the knot on July 14, 1956, in Germany. Bill looks at their wedding photo and says, “It feels like yesterday. It’s amazing how time goes by.” After Bill was discharged from the army, they moved back to the US, settled in Addison, Ill., and Bill worked as a chemist for Argonne National Laboratory. They had two children — a girl first, then a boy a year later. They moved to Downers Grove to be closer to Bill’s work, and have lived there ever since. Annemarie struggles to remember these stories. About four years […]

Being a blessing: Volunteer faithfully serves communion to Providence clients

PALOS HEIGHTS, Ill. (January 2016) — At Providence of Palos Heights, Alice Doherty is a blessing. Every week, Alice brings the Eucharist to the Catholic residents and patients at the community. She serves faithfully, visiting more than 20 people each Friday. She also takes turns with other volunteers for Sunday visits, sometimes seeing more than 40 people on those days. Alice is a Eucharistic minister in the Catholic Church. Along with her service at rehab center, she also leads the rosary before morning mass at Incarnation Parish in Palos Heights. The parish — right down the street from the Providence community — “adopts” and cares for Catholic residents at Providence. They not only serve the Eucharist to individual residents, but also hold communion services in the chapel and administer the anointing of the sick. Alice serves as a Minister of Care — along with the Eucharist, she brings residents words of hope and encouragement. “Alice spends time sharing the message that the priest gives at morning Mass; she also prays during her visits,” said Diane Giglio, Life Enrichment Director at Providence of Palos Heights. “She gets to know the clients personally.” These clients are recovering from illnesses, injuries, or surgeries, […]

Not slowing down

One resident’s active life at Village Woods CRETE, ILL. (December 2015) — Betty Kuipers has never spent her days sitting around, and she wasn’t about to start in retirement. The 66-year-old maintains an active lifestyle at Village Woods, where she has lived for the last year and a half. “I worked my whole life, so not working was a big adjustment,” Betty said, “I don’t have to be going 24/7, but if it interests me, I’ll do it.” Betty has to check the monthly activity calendar to remember everything she participates in — it’s too much to keep track of. She makes the weekly trips for grocery shopping or a Target run, and makes monthly trips to restaurants, the movie theatre, and the library. She goes on all the scenic bus rides. She gets her nails done, attends musical performances, calls BINGO, and plays trivia. She’s part of the craft club, the kitchen club, and the food committee, and she’s president of the resident council. She also makes time to see her family members, who live in the area. She enjoys days out shopping with her daughter. Her brother and sister visit her for dinner, or take her out to […]

A close-knit group

HOMER GLEN (December 2015) — Every week at Victorian Village, a small group of women turns donated yarn into a lovingly crafted gift, and creates close-knit friendships in the process. They call themselves the Knit & Stitch Group. The group started at Victorian Village more than 10 years ago, and its current members meet on Thursday afternoons in the Fireside Lounge of the Grand Victorian. They’re not an exclusive club; some residents attend casually, stopping by to work on their own projects, or just to sit and chat. But a few women are faithful knitters. “We’re the die-hards,” said Annette Hulford. “We come every week.” As a group, they create blankets, booties, and hats for babies in the NICU at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, and they knit chemo hats for women and children there as well. They have also knitted prayer shawls for the Ronald McDonald House. This fall, the Life Enrichment staff asked if the group would make purple scarves to raise money for The Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The women knitted about a dozen to be sold in the Victorian Village gift shop — and they sold out. “Next year, we’ll have to start earlier!” […]

‘It’s like a family here’ at Village Woods

CRETE, IL (November 2015) — Kellie Karstensen, a Village Woods employee for more than two decades, has seen firsthand the challenges of caregiving – not only from her work as a CNA at the senior living community in Crete, Ill., but also as a family member. In honor of National Family Caregivers Month*, she shared her experience: “It’s in a caregiver’s soul, to want to be there for the person who raised you,” Kellie said. “My mom was one of 16 kids. They tried so hard to care for my grandpa, who had Alzheimer’s, and my grandma, who had cancer at the same time. But it takes a lot.” Seeing her family’s struggle and losing her grandparents at a young age played into Kellie’s career choice. “It’s like a family here at Village Woods,” she said. “I lost three grandparents when I was fairly young, so I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with them. Everyone here is like a grandma or grandpa to me.” Kellie started in dietary department at Village Woods, while she was still in high school. In 21 years there, she has worked at the front desk, at the pool, and as a resident […]