“Music and love” was the theme of the day at the Valentine’s Day party at the Tacoma Lutheran Retirement Center. Patricia Lee Jenkins, ALU program and volunteer coordinator, her able assistants and DJ Walt Kaplin got together to provide a fun afternoon for those in attendance.
The festivities began with a variety of homemade finger foods, pastries, candies and other tasty treats distributed to the ladies at the very festively decorated ALU dining room. While music was playing in the background, Jenkins and her assistants served every person in attendance, including passing out Valentine’s Day cards to everyone. Cards were also exchanged individually. Lots of smiles were evident, and also a few tears of appreciation. Kaplin said that by the expressions on their faces and their collective body language that they were having a wonderful time. “You could see it in their eyes,” he said.
After the exchange of cards, Jenkins began her famous “Let’s Dance” session. She had all the ladies, including those with walkers or wheelchairs, get in line for a line dance segment. She also danced with everyone several times. This is powerful group therapy and the ladies loved it.
The music that Kaplin chose to play was music of their generation and included big band, disco, pop and rock & roll – songs by Glenn Miller, Harry James, Benny Goodman and Woody Herman from the Big Band era; pop singers like Teresa Brewer, Peggy Lee and Kay Starr; and greats like Bill Haley & His Comets, Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Buddy Holly.
Toward the end of the afternoon, Jenkins and Kaplin distributed special Valentine’s cards that Kaplin provided. It was a fun day for everyone and the ladies attending showed their appreciation in many ways. As several were overheard telling Kaplin that it was nice to be remembered and hear the music of our generation and not have to be forced to listen to today’s *$@# music. “I got the message,” Kaplin smiled.
As he was leaving, one of the assistants approached Kaplin, thanked him and said, “I believe that these music sessions you and Pat (Jenkins) are providing are extending (the residents’) overall well being and, quite possibly, their lives.”
This is the miracle of music.