Tag Archives: senior center

A Rocky Start: Chapter Eight Continued

Image1-17_edited-1Sunlight was coming in through the seams of the tent when the girls woke up. As soon as talk was coming from the tent, Taylor appeared at the door flap. “Daddy’s making french toast,” she announced.

“My dad makes the best french toast,” Laura informed them. “He makes it with thick slices of bread, and he puts cinnamon in the mixture.”

After downing two servings each, the girls went to Laura’s room to get dressed.

“I don’t have my bike here,” Amber suddenly realized. “I’ll have to walk to the senior center.”

“Mandy will let you borrow hers,” Laura assured her. “I’ll go ask her now.”

At ten o’clock on the dot, the girls arrived at the senior center. They quickly checked the bulletin board to find their assignment. After going down the list several times, they were convinced that Mrs. Snow had forgotten to assign them a job. To make matters worse, Amber noticed that her flyer was missing from the bulletin board.

“Maybe it fell off,” Laura suggested.

“I don’t think so,” Amber said. “See, here’s the corner where I put the tack. I think someone pulled it down.”

After several minutes of looking, Amber located her flyer under a small table. She dusted it off and stuck it back on the bulletin board.

As they had been instructed by Mrs. Snow, the girls went directly to Walt’s office. They found him at his desk and explained the situation.

“Mrs. Snow isn’t here today,” he said. “Let’s go take a look at the list. Mrs. Snow said she was going to have you girls set the tables for lunch. Your names should be on the list.”

Walt checked the list but couldn’t find their names. “It looks like it was there, but someone erased it. I’m going to take you over to meet Bob Stone. He’s the lunchroom manager. He’ll show you what to do.”

Bob Stone was a big man with sandy-blond hair and a mustache. He was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, with a large white dish towel tied around his waist. Bob smiled broadly at the girls and talked fast as he filled them in on what they would be doing.

“Usually, the ladies’ auxiliary from the Community Church sets up our lunch on Saturdays,” Bob explained. “But they’re working on table decorations for next Saturday. We’re having a big Easter luncheon. You will need to put out a plate, silverware, a glass, and a napkin at each place around the tables. Usually, we just put out forks and knives, but since we’re having pudding today, you will need to put out spoons as well.”

Bob showed the girls where to find everything. Then he left the Happy Helpers to set the tables and went back to preparing the food. Laura took charge of explaining proper table setting to the other two girls. She told Amber to put out a plate and glass at each place. Then she put a napkin and fork on the left side of each plate. Melissa placed a knife and spoon on the right side. In about forty minutes, the girls had finished their work. On the way out, they waved to Gus, who called them over to where he was sitting with some other guys.

“Like you to meet my cronies,” he said. “Here’s Al, Bert, and Norman. We’re planning our Monday-night poker game.” Gus gave the girls a wink.

“It’s nice to meet you,” the girls said.

“Tell them a joke before they leave,” Bert told Gus.

“Okay, try this one,” Gus said. “Why did the boy eat his homework?”

“Was the boy named Spike?” Amber asked.

“Okay, why did the boy eat his homework?” Laura played along.

“His teacher said it was a piece of cake.” Everyone laughed.

“That’s a good one, Gus,” Melissa said. “You’re a pretty funny guy.”

“We’d better get going,” Laura reminded Amber. “Your mom will be at my house to pick you up.”

“See you later, alligator,” Gus called after them.

“After a while, crocodile,” the girls called back a little awkwardly.

Out in front of the senior center, the girls saw Chris and Logan sweeping the walkways.

“Where’s Spike?” Melissa asked. “Isn’t he one of the Handy Guys anymore?”

“He went inside to use the bathroom,” Logan answered. “He’s been gone for a while though.”

“Are you volunteering here now?” Chris asked.

“We are,” Laura announced. “We just finished setting the table for lunch. It’s kind of fun.”

“Some of these old guys are really great to be around,” Logan said.

“You mean like Gus?” Amber asked. “He just told us a funny joke.”

“Why did the boy eat his homework, right?” Chris laughed.

“That’s the one,” Laura said.

“Kind of corny, huh?” Logan asked.

“Yeah, but we’d never tell Gus that,” Chris added.

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon



An interview with Amber Snyder

AmberVeronica Lyons here from Marshallville Daily News. This week we’re talking with kids who are making a difference in their communities. Today I’m speaking  with ten-year-old Amber Snyder. Amber is a member of the Handy Helpers, a group of children who assist the elderly in the town of Bluesky. Thank you for joining us today. How are you?

Amber:  I’m a little nervous but I’m happy to be here.

Veronica: Tell us a little about the Handy Helpers and what you do.

Amber: The Handy Helpers are kids like me who help at the senior center. We do some yard work and set the table for lunch. Sometimes we even help clean the kitchen. We call that KP duty.

Veronica: Are you organized like a club or do you just show up to help when you want to?

Amber: We are like a club. We have meetings every Monday. Logan is like the president. He wasn’t actually elected, but he’s really smart and organized. He’s a good leader.

Veronica: Do you just help at the senior center or do you help seniors in other ways?

Amber: We like to help seniors in any way we can. Sometimes they need help watering their plants or sweeping the porch. We’re always ready to help.

Veronica: How can seniors contact you if they need assistance?

Amber: We have posters around town to let people know we’re available. The best way to contact us is to call Walt at the senior center. He gives us our messages at the Monday meetings.

Veronica: How many members do you have?

Amber: There are seven of us, four girls and three boys.

Veronica:  Handy Helpers is a clever name. How did you come up with it?

Amber: At first, it was only the three boys helping at the senior center. They were Three Handy Guys. Then when my friends, Melissa and Laura wanted to start our own group, we called ourselves the Happy Helpers. After a while, we decided that we could help more if we worked together. That’s how we became the Handy Helpers.

Veronica: Well, I’m sure the people in Bluesky really appreciate all that you do. What do you like best about being a Handy Helper?

Amber:  I like helping, of course. But what I really like most is getting to know the seniors. They are so fun to be with. Sometimes they dress up in goofy costumes. They like to tell jokes and do fun things. They’re also good listeners when you have a problem.

Veronica: It sounds like you have made some very good friendships with the seniors in your town.

Amber: Yes, I have. They are my friends–Like Gus who always says, “See you later alligator,” and Betty who makes the best chocolate chip cookies you’ve ever eaten.

Veronica: Well, I make pretty good chocolate chip cookies. Are you sure Betty’s are the best?

Amber: Yes, they are. They have a secret ingredient.

Veronica: What’s the secret ingredient?

Amber: I can’t tell. I promised.

Veronica: You can whisper it to me. I won’t tell anyone.

Amber: I’m sorry. I can’t do that.

Veronica: Well, you’re a very loyal friend. I’ve enjoyed talking with you Amber. Good luck with your Handy Helpers group.

Amber: Thank you, Veronica.  I’m happy I could be here and talk about the Handy Helpers.


Beginning Friday, April 10, and continuing every Friday, the first Handy Helpers book, A Rocky Start, will be presented in serial form. I hope you will make it your Friday read.

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon




That Guy Named Gus

rheddens_order_delivered_jpgGus Farley is the fun-loving founder of the Bluesky Senior Center. When he and his wife, Barbara, moved to Bluesky from Ohio, only a few families were living there. Gus had retired from his job as a machinist and found himself with lots of time on his hands. At first, he kept busy by whittling, a hobby he learned from his father. But eventually, he looked around for something else to do. Building the senior center in Bluesky was not his idea, but he made it his personal project. Gus and Babs, as everyone called her, worked tirelessly to raise money for the land and building. Their only son had been killed in Vietnam, so the citizens of Bluesky became their family. When Babs was diagnosed with cancer, Gus turned his attention to caring for her. After Babs passed away, the senior center became his refuge. Most days, Gus can be found sitting in the rec room with his cronies, Al, Bert and Norman, telling stories or playing checkers.

When Amber, Laura, and Melissa come to the senior center for the first time to watch Betty’s shuffleboard match, it is Gus who greets them and gives them a quick tutorial on shuffleboard. Later, when they return to sign up as junior volunteers, it is Gus who shows them around the place. After that, the girls come to expect Gus to be there to greet them,  ready with a joke or riddle.

“Tell them a joke before they leave,” Bert told Gus.

“Okay, I’ll try,” Gus said. “Why did the boy eat his homework?”

“Was the boy named Spike?” Amber asked.

“Okay, why did the boy eat his homework?” Laura played along.

“His teacher said it was a piece of cake.”

Although Gus likes to dress up in crazy outfits and join in whatever fun stuff is going on, he does have his serious side. For example, when Amber is feeling guilty about some stunts she pulled to get even with Spike, Gus is there to help her see how much she is valued and loved.

“You know”–Gus became more serious–“I never had a daughter or a granddaughter, but if I did, I’d want her to be just like you.”

“Really?” Amber sounded doubtful. “Laura’s a lot smarter than I am, and Melissa is way prettier. Besides, I mess up a lot.”

“My wife, Barbara, would have loved you,” Gus said. “In some ways you remind me of her.”

“Do I look like her? “When she was younger, I mean?”

“No, you don’t look too much like her, except for your eyes. She had the same warm, deep brown eyes you have. Sometimes there was a little mischief in them like I’ve seen in yours.”

In book three, after Spike’s mishap with the mayor, Spike expects a big lecture from Gus just like the one he received from his parents. Instead, Gus offers him a bit of advice in the form of a Bible scripture, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Gus goes on to give Spike a little project to work on–something that makes all the difference in Spike’s attitude toward Todd.

Gus is the perfect example of Christian charity for the Handy Helpers. He is there to lend a hand when his neighbors are in need–always with a smile. He is patient with Warren Pritchard, who has some memory problems. He is kind to the Clawson sisters who are a little eccentric.  When the Cole children need a home, it is Gus who steps up. That guy named Gus–Bluesky just wouldn’t be the same without him.

The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon