LeadingAge Magazine · September-October 2019 • Volume 09 • Number 05

Teachers, Woodworkers, and Scholarship Funders: These are the People We Serve

September 17, 2019 | by The Members of LeadingAge

Learn about more of the big-hearted people our members work for and with.

Kay Carpenter

St. Andrews Estates, Boca Raton, FL

Former nurse Kay Carpenter is funding a $250,000 college scholarship and inspiring students to “pay it forward” after graduation.

St. Andrews photo
Kay Carpenter

Carpenter knew she wanted to be a nurse when she was 3 years old.

“As a small child I was hospitalized a number of times and it turned out that nurses were some of the nicest people I met,” she says.

She met the scholarship recipients at a luncheon and was touched by their gratefulness and affection.

“I was surprised,” Carpenter says. “Receiving the scholarship, none of them took it for granted that they were chosen. They were very eager to give back what they had received.” Carpenter invited each recipient after graduation and stable employment "on his/her honor" to pay a portion of it forward for the benefit of future nurses.

“I think it’s incredible: we literally fund this scholarship ourselves,” said Shanice Clayton, one of the first recipients, a nursing student at Florida Atlantic University. “To pay it forward, it’s like a melting pot of love we pour back into this. Immediately when I saw Kay Carpenter—you know people who are true, honest, and genuine—I gave her a big hug.”

See a video about the program:

Lisa Sileo, communications manager, Acts Retirement-Life Communities

Hobby Hut Volunteers

John Knox Village, Lee’s Summit, MO

At John Knox Village, the spirit of Christmas is alive and well year-round, thanks to a group of dedicated volunteers at the John Knox Village Hobby Hut who make one-of-a-kind, handcrafted wooden toys and games for children who live in Lee’s Summit.

This group of residents, which varies in size from 9-14 residents, spends thousands of hours each year designing, cutting, gluing, and sanding “old-fashioned” toys such as rocking horses, art easels, cars and trucks, baby beds, and more.

John Knox photo
The Hobby Hut volunteers’ handiwork.


In 2018 alone, the group donated about 500 toys to Lee’s Summit Social Services. In addition to making playthings, Hobby Hut volunteers build and repair furniture and do other woodworking tasks. The donations are distributed to children through the Lee’s Summit Social Service Christmas Store.

Organizers say the toys are a hit with parents because each is so unique. What’s more, the durable toys can be passed to future generations.

“It’s special to be able to give back to the community,” a volunteer says. “Our goal is to put a smile on a child’s face, especially if they might not have much else to smile about during the holidays.”

This group of talented craftsmen and women receives help from other members of the Village community. In years past they added decorative touches to the wooden toys; however, in 2018 the group sought assistance from residents with artistic talents to paint the toys with bright, festive colors and patterns. What’s more, they build their creations from donations of money and materials from other residents, associates, and even vendors.

Although it takes big-hearted volunteers with a particular talent to make the toys, it’s the love for children that is generated by a community within a community that really makes the toys so special.

Emily Banyas, senior marketing communication specialist, John Knox Village

Hebrew SeniorLife photo
Dodie Catlett

Dodie Catlett

Center Communities of Brookline (Hebrew SeniorLife), Brookline, MA

Dolores (Dodie) Catlett, 88, has been a resident of The Marilyn and André Danesh Family Residences for nearly 6 years. Her working career included 5 years as a flight attendant for a major airline and 15 years in graphics at a large New York museum.

Upon arrival at Danesh, Catlett posted a bulletin board notice offering to custom-make calling cards for fellow residents, and within 6 months she was not only a staff member of The Journal, a newsletter by and for residents, but also its editor. Within a year it evolved from 8 to 16 pages, with a photo centerfold and 4 pages in color.

This publication was a splendid resource for new residents for more than five years. Having had a recent heart attack, Catlett gave up The Journal editorship, but happily continues the less pressured production of a 4-page photo newsletter of Danesh events, and also makes photo collages of major events that are posted in common areas.

To quote what she has said about her contributions to our community: “I’ve always felt that living here is a privilege and I want to give back in a way that I can. I only hope my work is enjoyed even half as much as I feel fulfilled in doing it.”

Laura Baber, outreach and program coordinator, Center Communities of Brookline

Redwood Terrace photo
Joyce Hartman

Joyce Hartman

Redwood Terrace, Escondido, CA

Joyce Hartman has spent more than 40 years in some sort of classroom. At a young age, she knew she wanted to teach, and that desire continues into retirement, where she now goes into a classroom and teaches free of charge.

Her students are the wives of foreign workers. On Monday mornings, she makes the short drive from her home at Redwood Terrace in Escondido to the Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church in San Diego to teach English as a second language.

Hartman says it’s very rewarding for her to see the difference she’s making in the women’s lives. It’s a difference she’s been making in the lives of students around the world for four decades.

Hartman began her teaching career in Japan and later traveled to Germany, where she taught English. She ultimately ended up in San Diego, teaching 2nd- and 3rd-graders before retiring.

Chelsea Wilson, GlynnDevins

Peitra Baker, LPN

Hebrew Rehabilitation Center (Hebrew SeniorLife), Boston, MA

Nurses do heroic acts every day, but it is not every day that their efforts are acknowledged publicly. However, the Boston Globe recently profiled several nurses in Greater Boston who were nominated by their colleagues and peers for truly outstanding dedication and work.

Hebrew SeniorLife photo
Peitra Baker

Peitra Baker was one such nurse. She was standing at her med cart when she heard a noise. One of her patients was choking and beckoning to her. She called for help and immediately started abdominal thrusts to try to dislodge the food stuck in her patient’s throat. Her patient became unresponsive. Baker assisted her to the floor and continued to attempt to dislodge the food.

Things did not look good; no matter how hard she tried, Baker could not get the food up or out. Finally the patient was able to cough out the large piece of pizza lodged in her throat. She began to cry and thanked Baker, saying, “She saved my life!”

Baker knew she could not lose her patient, and continued the abdominal thrusts until she was successful. The Hebrew SeniorLife community is lucky to have such a devoted nurse.

Margaret Bonilla, director, communications and public relations, Hebrew SeniorLife

Ted Sundquist

Covenant Village at Mount Miguel, Spring Valley, CA

You might call Ted Sundquist, a Covenant Village at Mount Miguel resident, “a rowing machine on a rowing machine.” The 90 year-old recently set a new American record in the heavyweight division by rowing a half marathon (13.1 miles) on his rowing machine in 2:23:44.9.

Covenant Mt. Miguel photo
Ted Sundquist

No other American 90-year-old has ever rowed a half marathon before. Sundquist’s time was about 37 minutes behind the world record holder from Australia.

Sundquist has always been active, and used to be a runner, marathoner, triathlete, cross-country skier, cyclist, and swimmer. He purchased his rowing machine in 2001 and has been logging his activity ever since—somewhere in the neighborhood of 7.5 million meters (about 4,660 miles).

Sundquist received a certificate marking his accomplishment from Concept2, the company that manufactures the rowing machine and also tracks users in various categories. Next up for Sundquist? He’s considering rowing a full marathon.

Randy Eilts, director of public relations & communications, Covenant Retirement Communities

Jane Hartstein

Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Commack, NY

On the respiratory care unit at the Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, one might not expect to find twinkling lights, champagne bubbles, and a chuppah, but that’s just what the staff and residents saw when Nicole Hartstein and her fiancé, Edward Guida, surprised Nicole’s mother, Jane Hartstein, with a wedding.

Gurwin photo
The happy couple: Edward Guida and Nicole Hartstein-
Guida with Nicole’s mother, Jane Hartstein.

Hartstein, who was completely shocked upon seeing her daughter in her wedding dress, has been on a ventilator for more than 3 years. “I can’t believe this,” she said when she was wheeled into the decorated family room on the unit. “I’m just so happy, I can’t believe they did this.”

According to Nicole, she and her fiancé wanted her mother to be part of their wedding, but knew she could not make the trip to the New Jersey venue on May 26. So instead, they decided to get married at Gurwin prior to their scheduled wedding and reception, officially changing their anniversary, if only for those in the know.

The wedding went on as planned in Woodland Park, NJ, (and Jane live-streamed it on her TV at Gurwin), but Nicole and Edward knew that the important ceremony had already taken place.

When Nicole saw her mother’s tears, she had to wipe her own away, as well. “I know you wanted to be at our wedding, so we’re bringing our wedding to you,” she said, hugging her mom before she took her place to walk down the makeshift aisle outside the family room.

“A Thousand Years” by Christine Perri played, and staff and residents watched as Nicole was escorted by her uncle, James Jacobs, into the family room where a small group of her family, including her mom, waited with the priest and rabbi. Nicole beamed as the ceremony made her officially Mrs. Guida.

As the kiss was exchanged and congratulations were expressed, Jane sat watching the festivities. “I can’t believe it,” she said, tearing up. “This is the best gift anyone could ever have given me.”

Maureen Fagan, public relations specialist, Gurwin Family of Healthcare Services

Creative Expressions Appreciated and Applauded

Otterbein SeniorLife, Lebanon, OH

Almost 300 pieces of fine art and writings of local seniors from over a dozen senior living communities in Southwest Ohio were on display at the Otterbein SeniorLife Community Creative Arts Center on June 6-7, as part of the 2019 Leading Age Ohio Art and Writing Competition.

Otterbein photo

Almost 1,000 older adults from across the state had worked on manuscripts, poems, paintings, sculptures, and other works of art in preparation for the annual regional and state-wide art and writing show.

The works of people with years of artistic experience appeared right alongside those who were just beginning to explore their craft. The show celebrated the creative vibrancy and passion of these artists, all of whom are residents or clients of LeadingAge Ohio member facilities.

Local judges select 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Honorable Mention entries in each of 20 categories, and award ribbons are distributed to the proud winners. All show attendees were invited to vote for the winner of the ever-popular People’s Choice Award. Bob Hewitt of Otterbein SeniorLife won the award for the second year in a row.

Samantha Burnett, senior marketing manager, Otterbein SeniorLife

Thanks to the many LeadingAge members who wrote the stories included in this article. To contribute more stories of diverse, remarkable elders—and the staff, board members, and volunteers who serve them—contact Editor Gene Mitchell at GMitchell@LeadingAge.org or 202-508-9424.