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Age is just a number

Residents of Mountain City Care and Rehabilitation Center are proof that age and health problems can be overcome when it comes to getting out and enjoying yourself. In recent weeks, some of the residents have enjoyed outings that have taken them bowling and boat racing.
There were ten entries in a boat race a few weeks ago at Ralph Stout Park. Each of the skippers, as they called themselves, are part of a men's group at Mountain City Care and Rehabilitation Center. While there are quite a few groups of women that meet, there wasn't always as much to do for men. That quickly changed as the skippers made small sail boats out of wood kits, painted them and erected the sails. Each boat took approximately 15 to 20 hours to complete.
The group eagerly awaited the start of the boat race. There were four different races, with five boats racing at one time. The top three out of each race then raced against each other to determine the first, second and third place winners. Stephen Spencer kept busy as he had the job of keeping the boats upright as they floated down the creek. Cheering them on, two officials waited at the finish line. The residents seemed to enjoy watching their caregivers wading through the water, some with bare feet, to make the race a success.
Although Larry Taylor couldn't be there for the race, his boat came in first place. Second place was awarded to Rob Stanley and Otis Lewis' boat, the SS Otis, came in third place. Each of the skippers had named their boats, with creative names such as the SS Fanny Dipper, SS Big Joe, SS Reba, SS Lone Wolf, SS Minnow and the SS Volunteer. The smiles on the faces of the winners were priceless.
The previous week, a group of approximately ten residents climbed aboard the Mountain City Care and Rehabilitation Center's van and headed to the bowling alley in Boone, North Carolina. Although it takes approximately 30 minutes to load the residents and another 30 minutes to unload them at their destination, and necessary medications must be taken on all outings, the staff is ready and willing to do what it takes to keep the residents active
As the group assembled in the bowling alley, some of the residents were able to bowl with just a gentle hand giving them support, while some bowled in their wheelchairs or used a bowling guide that is placed in front of the wheelchair where the bowling ball can be placed. The staff patiently adjusted the guide until the resident had it just where he wanted to aim the ball. The group, with lots of physical help and words of encouragement, seemed to enjoy their day out. According to April Stewart, although the group may be quiet, they soon ask when they will be going bowling again. “Sometimes that's all they talk about for a week,” said Stewart.
As Henry Garland threw his ball down the lane, his face twinkled with a smile. “I'd have a lot more fun if I could knock more of them (pins) down,” he said. A loud cheer rose as Lucille Nelson made a strike. According to John Duvall, he enjoys going on the outings. “It gets you out and is something different,” he said. “It helps your mind.” Duvall recalled bowling in the 50's and 60's when he was young. “It brings back memories,” he mused. He also added that on a previous fishing trip, he pulled a 25-inch catfish out of the water.
The residents keep a busy schedule at Mountain City Care and Rehabilitation Center. Throughout the month, there are bingo games, music, church services, Bible studies and even crocheting classes. According to Spencer, who is the spiritual consultant at Mountain City Care and Rehabilitation Center, they are looking for more volunteers to spend time with residents. “This really improves the quality of the lives of our residents,” he said. “We want to do more than take care of them. We want them to be happy.”
According to Spencer, background checks will be performed for all volunteers. “We have to protect the residents,” he said. Mountain City Care and Rehabilitation Center is hoping to have more members of the community come forward and offer their time and talents with the residents, spending time reading, talking or even working puzzles with the residents. Volunteering benefits the volunteer as well as the recipient. The residents have a lifetime of information they are willing to share. All they need is a willing ear. Volunteering has also been shown to improve self-confidence, help fight depression and help you stay healthy yourself.
Contact Mountain City Care and Rehabilitation Center at 727-7800 if you or any member of your family is interested in volunteering.