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Every year on the summer solstice (the longest day of the year), people around the world come together to participate in sunrise-to-sunset activities geared toward raising awareness of those living with Alzheimer’s disease: the people who live the longest day every day. “The Longest Day” was created by the Alzheimer’s Association to pay tribute to the strength, passion and endurance of those living with Alzheimer’s, their families and their caregivers. Residents of Presbyterian Village North recently gathered to commemorate The Longest Day. They started the morning with a Sunrise Stretch at the senior living community’s gazebo. Later that afternoon, residents gathered in the Fun and Games room to stuff goody bags which will be distributed at the upcoming Alzheimer’s memory walk this fall. To close, residents gathered for a movie night to watch “The Post” starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. Everyone was encouraged to wear purple to raise awareness, empower individuals and inspire hope. 

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With all the recent Royal Wedding excitement, senior residents of Presbyterian Village North (PVN) fancied partaking in a tea party to commemorate the posh societal event and internationally famous love story. On the Wednesday leading up to the big event, Sherries Tea Party put on a smashing get-together for the residents. Attendees dressed in their most festive tea attire and wear fashionable fascinators or other Royal Wedding appropriate hats. For the ladies of Presbyterian Village North, this Royal wedding is among several they witnessed in their lifetime. They were delighted to come together to commemorate the union of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Pinkies up ladies!

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Presbyterian Village North (PVN) is delighted to announce that Bryan Cooper has been named executive director of the continuing care retirement community (CCRC). With more than 10 years of experience in the senior living industry, Cooper brings valuable expertise to the PVN team. In this role he is responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the senior living community, facilitating a teamwork-centered environment, managing marketing, planning community outreach and overseeing financial operations, as well as administration duties such as programming and strategic planning. Cooper’s goal is to enrich the lives of the seniors who live in the community or use its services. Tim Mallad, CEO of Presbyterian Communities and Services (parent organization of PVN), made the announcement.


“We are a ministry of people dedicated to enriching the lives of those we serve by providing exceptional care and services in a faith-based environment, and we believe Bryan will do well in helping us continue our mission,” said Tim Mallad. “He is a results-oriented leader with a proven track record of helping communities undergo renovations, increase profits, develop a cohesive leadership team, improve company cultures and enhance communities overall. He will focus not only on resident satisfaction, but also on the satisfaction of our team. We believe his strong leadership, written communication, public speaking abilities, team building and organizational skills will benefit those living and working at PVN in many ways.”


Prior to joining PVN, Cooper served as the executive director of The Forum at Park Lane for four years, where he gained experience in achieving revenue, profit, occupancy and business growth. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Management at Brigham Young University and is certified as a Licensed Nursing Facility Administrator. Cooper is a skilled and award-winning leader who has special insight into financial services pertaining to acquisition growth, cost control management, reimbursement systems, Medicare and Medicaid management, customer service, employee development and clinical systems improvement.


“I feel privileged to serve the residents of Presbyterian Village North,” said Cooper. “I was drawn to the culture of PVN, as the team here is focused on providing a hospitality-driven experience to residents and goes above and beyond to accommodate their needs and special requests. I have many fresh ideas and insights that I am bringing to the table, and I am excited to be a part of a community that has undergone extensive renovations and has more exciting plans for the near future. The future here is bright.”

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During this school year, 19 seniors living at Presbyterian Village North (PVN) are serving as an inspiration to third-grade students in Karen Gunter’s class at Good Shepherd Episcopal School. Each senior is paired up with a student, and the pair is writing letters back and forth as part of a unique pen pal partnership. Excitement fills the air when the students and seniors receive a letter, and both groups cannot wait for the next letter writing surprise to arrive. The exercise helps students learn and practice cursive, and it provides a tremendous emotional benefit for both the kids and older adults. Tim Mallad, CEO of Presbyterian Communities and Services, parent organization of PVN, came up with the pen pal idea after he sent a letter written in cursive to his daughter while she was at summer camp. Upon finding out that she couldn’t read the letter, he proposed the idea of the pen pal partnership to her third grade teacher, Karen Gunter. Gunter shared his concern, as she worried that the lack of exposure to cursive would prevent her students from reading historical documents like the Declaration of Independence.


“Tim and I began discussing the lost art of cursive at the open house held at the beginning of the school year,” said Gunter. “He agreed with me and believes that it is important for children to learn how to read and write cursive. He worked quickly to start a partnership and put me in touch with Lisa Englander, life enrichment manager for PVN. We matched 19 students with 19 seniors and they are exchanging letters at least once a month. Lisa said the interest was so high they had a waiting list going. We wrote our first letter in mid-November and dropped them off right before Thanksgiving. In their first letter, I suggested that my students share a little bit of information about themselves and write about their ‘Classroom of the Earth’ experience.”


The Classroom of the Earth program is an annual outdoor learning experience which begins for students in PreK and concludes in eighth grade with a backpacking trip in Colorado. Students complete many outdoor tasks and lessons like setting up a tent, white water rafting, rock climbing and more. In third grade, they spend their first night away from home in a screened cabin at a lake house. During this trip, they go on night hikes and many learn how to fish for the first time. Gunter recommended that they write about the experience and share how school is different than it was when the seniors went to school.


“In other letters, I am encouraging them to write about unique lessons and activities they are currently doing at school,” said Gunter. “Many kids have never written a letter or a thank-you note in their life. Some may have typed a thank you via an email, but handwriting isn’t practiced much anymore. I feel that writing letters helps them work on print and cursive. I love that my students and PVN residents will learn from each other throughout this pen pal partnership, as well. They are expected to write more than a mere two or three sentences, and I review them for spelling and grammar. They write a draft, and after the review process complete a final copy. Eventually, we plan to coordinate an event for the residents of PVN to meet my class. If they wish to write more than once a month or continue writing letters after the school year is over, they are welcome to do so.”


Gunter was eager to bring this concept back to her classroom, and she is thrilled that area seniors share her passion and endeavor. She is also thankful that Good Shepherd Episcopal School is letting her incorporate cursive into her lesson plans, as it is not required curriculum. Handwriting provides several mental, physical and emotional benefits. Cursive writing helps with brain development, assists with fine motor skills and enhances the ability to perform small tasks. Writing gives students a chance to be still, and the act of putting thoughts onto paper makes them more focused. It creates room for peace. If children are exposed to constant activity it impairs their ability to sit quietly. UCLA and Princeton published research which shows that students retain information better if they take notes by hand rather than using a laptop. Meanwhile, neuroscientists at the University of Washington have done studies which show that writing in cursive stimulates the brain in ways printing and typing do not.


“As several of our residents will agree, handwriting is a vintage art that is both practical and aesthetically pleasing. Handwriting is personal because it comes from a human and not from a machine,” said Englander. “Forming letters by hand not only helps children learn how to read, it solidifies knowledge and connects the dots when combining certain shapes and sounds. It also helps people develop their signature, which is like a person’s brand or trademark if you will. Cursive might be becoming obsolete in many classrooms, but we are excited to be a part of a pen pal program that makes it enjoyable for children to learn and practice cursive. The residents are learning about the children and are sharing information about themselves. It will be an insightful and heartwarming bond to watch develop.”

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From planning a gala in Venezuela to signing up for three trips with the Peace Corps, volunteerism is an integral part of the lives of two women in their 80s. Mary Ann Hyde planned her very first gala in Caracas when she was 31 years old. Loretta Dunbar left Dallas to go to Africa with the Peace Corps for the first time when she was 41 years old. These remarkable residents of Presbyterian Village North retirement community were instantly hooked on helping others. They focus on people whose needs would not be met otherwise. Today both ladies are still active in volunteer work, though their projects are closer to home and benefit residents of Dallas.


“My husband and I lived in Venezuela for eight years while he worked for Sun Oil Company,” said Hyde. “While we were living there, I chaired the Children’s Service League Fundraising Gala. I was nervous because I never put on an event of this magnitude previously, but I had friends who supported me. While the event was well attended and we made a lot of money, there were some minor hiccups. For starters, I was told the DJ would show up before 8:00 p.m. and he arrived late. This was after the arrival of the president of Venezuela’s wife, who was the honorary chair. Though she normally did not attend these kinds of events, she decided – unbeknownst to me – to come with 25 people in her entourage. People in the packed theater were kind enough to relinquish their seats for her and her party. All in all, I was pleased with the success of the event, and I continued my efforts with the Children’s Service League.”


From there, the couple moved to Philadelphia, the home office of Sun Oil. Since she is fluent in Spanish, Hyde volunteered to tutor 15- and 16-year-old teens in Spanish. She also helped at a hostel, joined a library league, became a deacon of a Presbyterian church and served on the boards of two separate hospitals. She and her husband spent 11 years in Philadelphia before returning to Dallas.


“Currently, I’m on the executive board of the Southern Methodist University Meadows School of the Arts, which is of great interest,” said Hyde. “My other dedication is my affiliation with The Hockaday School Alumnae Association, as I started there in first grade, graduated in junior college and came back to reconnect serving as president of the alumnae association and on the board of trustees. I also enjoy being involved with The Dallas Symphony Orchestra League. For me, it’s rewarding to devote time to organizations that make a difference in the lives of other people. It is important that we give back in any way we can. I have experienced many wonderful things in my life, and I want to share my time and talents with the community.”


Currently, Hyde is also actively involved with the Presbyterian Communities and Services Foundation board of trustees, Erin Bain Jones Scholarship Committee of The Dallas Woman’s Club and Flower Guild co-chair at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church. Her other affiliations and board positions include Marianne Scruggs Garden Club, Mary K. Craig Class, the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary and A.W.A.R.E. (The Alzheimer’s Women’s Association for Resources and Education). Previously, Hyde was actively involved in the planning and development of the Monie Chapel and the T. Boone Pickens Hospice and Palliative Care Center, which are owned by Presbyterian Communities and Services. She easily spends 10 to 12 hours each week volunteering and notes that all these causes are close to her heart.


“I think it is wonderful that The SMU Meadows School of the Arts has a partnership with Presbyterian Village North and arranges for students from their music therapy division to come to the senior living community to lead music therapy sessions twice a week,” said Hyde. “The Pickens Center is also just phenomenal at providing a beautiful and meaningful end-of-life experience for people and their families. I was deeply moved by one woman who expressed how much she appreciated the kindness and love shown to her during her final days. It is so rewarding to see firsthand the positive impact you can make on people’s lives.”


Just like Hyde, Dunbar also says that volunteer work fills her heart with happiness and notes it has changed her attitude as an American. She has volunteered in West East and South Africa as well as Tanzania. Her first project was as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana.  She has visited more than 65 countries.


“If it weren’t for the long flights, I’d still be doing volunteer work overseas. I didn’t mind the modest living conditions, I actually enjoyed living a simpler way of life. I was hooked after my first trip with the Peace Corps,” said Dunbar. “I learned about the Peace Corps in 1961, but wasn’t qualified to join until 1971. When you sign up for the Peace Corps, they find out what skills you have and assign you to places that need your specific skills. I signed up and was assigned to Ghana, West Africa, where I was sent to teach office practices like typing and shorthand. With my background as an office manager – among other things – this was a natural fit. I had several years of office experience, and Ghana wanted young men to learn the skills necessary to become secretaries. We were the first group to come out and do something like that, and it was a wonderful experience. The boarding school was located 40 miles from the nearest town in the middle of the rainforest. I had a lovely small house there, which they called a bungalow.”


Dunbar’s roommate was another American woman who was also a teacher, though she taught biology. They learned how to get along without modern amenities. At one point, Dunbar created her very own shower curtain. She went to the market and bought a plastic tablecloth, which she pierced with piston rings that she looped onto a broomstick. Having done many volunteer projects worldwide since then, Dunbar says that Africa is her favorite continent, and she treasures her first project in the Peace Corps the most.


“My second project with the Peace Corps was in 1985, when I served on the island of Antigua in the Caribbean,” said Dunbar. “I was sent there to teach office practices as well. Antigua was a different experience from West Africa because I lived on the island, which I didn’t like as much as Africa. For my third assignment, I traveled to Thailand in 2004 to teach office practices and English. Outside of the Peace Corps, I continued to volunteer to teach English in other countries.”


While most of Dunbar’s travels were done by air, a select few times she traveled by boat. One year, she spent time on a floating university called Semester at Sea. She acknowledges that this was one of the most interesting experiences of her life. She completed two semesters on board, one in the spring and one in the summer. It took her to the Baltic area and Russia. She found out about volunteer projects such as this by responding to ads in the newspaper. She has completed a variety of volunteer work on both land and sea, as she loves helping others and experiencing other cultures.


“I encourage all people to experience the world and see how others live,” said Dunbar. “It is very rewarding and gives you a lot of knowledge about humankind. I truly believe the most wonderful way to see the world is through volunteer work. I still love to volunteer locally when I have the opportunity. Each week I volunteer to work a shift at the T. Boone Pickens Hospice and Palliative Care Center where I do clerical work, greet people, escort visitors to patients’ rooms and assist with special events. I still teach English when I can, and I enjoy giving presentations about my lifetime of volunteer work. Outside of my volunteer work and presentations, I express myself through French Tapestry Weaving. I saw it advertised in a book several years ago in Ghana and Nigeria. I loved the art and went up to England to take a course on how to create it. I took a follow-up course in San Francisco as well. It is a very rare skill and only a few studios teach it. I have made many amazing friends and memories through my volunteer work, and I have developed some fascinating skills. I have even written two books to share what I learned – an autobiography titled ‘No Ordinary Life’ and a smaller book about my time in Thailand titled ‘Thai Odyssey.’”


“We are truly astounded by the life stories of Mary Ann and Loretta, each fantastic in their own way,” said Bryan Cooper, executive director of Presbyterian Village North. “These women might not be noted in history books, but they are making history by changing lives and helping groups in other countries. They are a true inspiration to us all.”

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Many of today’s seniors began participating in book clubs when they were in their 20s, and it’s an activity that they still actively participate in today. When Pat Tharp moved into Presbyterian Village North (PVN) in 2003, she started the senior living community’s Book Review club and has been organizing opportunities for fellow residents to hear from reviewers since the club’s inception. Joan McClure recently partnered with Barbara Baker to help facilitate the community’s Read and Talk club, which was started by another resident several years ago. The women enjoy bringing fellow avid readers together for a time of fellowship. The Book Review club meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The Read and Talk club meets on the third Wednesday of each month from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.


“Ermance Rejebian was the inspiration that drove the creation of many book review clubs here in Dallas,” said Tharp. “She and her husband owned an oriental rug business, and after joining the Munger Place United Methodist Church she gained a reputation as a fantastic storyteller. In time, book clubs asked Rejebian to attend their meetings and deliver reviews of books, and thus spurred the dawn of a new era of book clubs; ones that didn’t require any reading. Rejebian became so popular that women started book clubs in her honor. These clubs meet all over in country clubs and houses. Here we are 75 years later, and these kinds of clubs still exist. I started one 15 years ago when I moved into PVN so that residents living at our community wouldn’t have to travel to other places to attend and enjoy a book review club.”


PVN’s Book Review club welcomes eight reviewers who make monthly visits between September and May. The meetings start with 30 minutes of fellowship, during which attendees enjoy Danishes and coffee, then the review begins and lasts for one hour. Some reviewers deliver a review on one book, and other reviewers, like the “Book Bag Lady,” deliver reviews on several books (12) within the given time. Last month, the club welcomed a professor from SMU who reviewed “The Autobiography of Teddy Roosevelt.” Attendees do not read the book before listening to the review. After hearing the review, they determine if the book is of interest and then they either buy it or borrow it from the library. Some people who attend do not read at all, but come for the mere entertainment of listening to the reviews. The club boasts 65 members, all of whom enjoy coming together for food, fellowship and the reviews. The reviewers all belong to the same group and meet during the summer to discuss which books they will read and review so as not to deliver reviews on the same books. Tharp books the reviewers a year in advance.


“I love reading because it expands the imagination, broadens one’s vocabulary, teaches us about the world and enlightens us on the cultures of others,” said Tharp. “Being a part of the Book Review Club is enlightening and interesting. It is also enjoyable to see how others respond to the review. I’ve been a part of book review clubs my entire married life. It was something women did if they lived in Dallas and didn’t work. I feel that now, women are still joining them, they are just joining them later on in life.”


While the Book Review club meets eight times a year, Read and Talk meets six times a year starting in September and going until May. Unlike the Book Review club, members of Read and Talk are given a list of books to read and dates upon which they plan to discuss the books. In March, members read and discussed “The Woman in Cabin 10” by Ruth Ware. Since April is National Poetry Month, everyone will bring in a favorite or meaningful poem to share. For May, participants will read and discuss “Camino Island” by John Grisham. Though the reading is done by most, it is not required. The discussions lead to many interesting topics and points of view.


“The Read and Talk club has been going on for more than 10 years,” said McClure. “Given my interest in reading, I joined the club four years ago when I moved into PVN. Being a part of the club has been a fabulous way to meet people. We have about 15 people who come regularly. Barbara Baker and I were asked to organize the meetings this year when several of the original organizers became ill or moved away. Someone is assigned to lead the discussion and everyone throws out questions. We get to read books we might not read otherwise, and they lead to stimulating, thought-provoking discussions. This club opens the world for us; it gives us a fun escape and it teaches us about other cultures, ideas, values and realities.”


“We think it is wonderful that our residents are so driven and enthusiastic about organizing these book clubs,” said Bryan Cooper, executive director of Presbyterian Village North. “We know the clubs brings fellow residents a lot of enjoyment, and we applaud these ladies for taking the initiative to keep the groups going. It is important to keep our minds active as we age, and reading is an amazing way to do so.”

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In response to a growing demand for exercise classes designed specifically for those living with Parkinson’s disease, Presbyterian Village North (PVN) created a new, free fitness class called Mindful Movement that is open to its residents and members of the public. The class already has a waiting list. After learning of the high demand for similar movement disorder exercise classes in Dallas, PVN decided to create the Mindful Movement class to give area seniors additional classes, times and locations to consider. The first class was held in March, and seniors are experiencing amazing results thus far. Ann Martin, a resident of PVN who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 10 years ago, is a huge advocate of the class saying it is what has kept her going. She attended the class at other locations in the Dallas area for the last nine years, and she is thrilled to now attend at the senior living community she calls home. The classes are held in The Jim & Bess Blanchette Lifestyle Fitness Center, PVN’s newly renovated and expanded wellness center which just reopened last year, on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. 


“Parkinson’s is a movement disorder, so it is imperative to keep moving your body if you want to delay the progression of the disease,” said Martin. “As soon as PVN opened the doors to its very first class, seniors were eager to attend. I went to the first class in early March and have been going ever since. I also do some of the exercises at home or at the gym in conjunction with time spent on the treadmill, the stationary bike and outdoor walking trails. It’s easy to find the motivation to work out when you know that it will help you remain mobile. My relative has a friend in Houston who is living with Parkinson’s, and I encouraged him to participate. He didn’t take any proactive steps to increase his physical activity, and his health has deteriorated so much. You have to keep your muscles moving, and you even have to practice vocal exercises too.”


As soon as Martin learned of her diagnosis, she immediately took action to figure out what steps she could take to maintain and improve her overall health and well-being. She sought counsel from a helpful group in Dallas called the Dallas Area Parkinsonism Society (DAPS), which provides a monthly newsletter with information on where to find fitness classes, emotional support groups and other beneficial therapies all designed to assist those living with Parkinson’s, as well as their families.


“A decade ago, medical professionals were not even pushing exercise classes and movement,” said Martin. “I learned of it in a DAPS newsletter and decided to give it a go. I joined classes at the Cooper Clinic and started participating in Loud Crowds with the Voice Project. Vocal exercises are just as important as physical movement. In the last 10 years, several new forms of classes have been developed for those living with Parkinson’s. Some places have noncontact boxing classes and dancing classes. At PVN, we have an aquatic class called Roll with the Punches for residents living this movement disorder. All our fitness instructors and physical therapists undergo training to learn how to lead each respective class or program. I feel truly blessed to live in a senior living community that is going above and beyond to meet the individualized needs of its residents. It is amazing to see how these exercises classes designed for those living with movement disorders have evolved over the past decade. The knowledge medical professionals have gained in this span of time, and the dedication of former and present leaders has helped movement disorder classes positively evolve.”


There are usually 15 people in attendance for each class, and the class focuses on a variety of movements including cardio, detailed leg movement, stretching, weights, bands and dancing. Attendees move through a variety of exercises designed to increase balance, posture, strength, and range of motion. This total body workout is a great choice for anyone, even those living without movement disorders.


“We are so excited to add this class to our list of 60-plus wellness classes that are currently offered to residents,” said Shannon Radford, wellness director of Presbyterian Village North. “Beyond the physical benefits, those who attend enjoy camaraderie with other attendees in an environment in which everyone understands that they are not alone. People can share knowledge, ideas, experiences and empathy with people in similar situations. We are delighted to bring this class to the residents of PVN and to welcome those in the surrounding community who may benefit as well. The participants are all so grateful and motivated. It’s been such a wonderful and rewarding addition to our program.”


“A majority of those who attend do not live at PVN,” said Bryan Cooper, executive director of Presbyterian Village North. “We are thrilled to make this much-needed and desired free class available to the public. April is recognized nationally as Parkinson’s Awareness Month, and Shannon has been encouraging residents to wear blue in support of the cause.”

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During this holiday season, several seniors came together to create new traditions with their peers. The holidays are a time to share love, give gifts, complete acts of service and bestow kindness upon others. They’re also a time to indulge in some activities you have time to enjoy during your retirement. Not having the hassle of balancing work, family and holiday events opens the door to participating in unique outings, gatherings, activities, performances and social hours.


“When planning each month’s activities, I think of the things I wish I had time to do or have always wanted to do, in addition activities I’ve always enjoyed doing and ones the residents are passionate about as well,” said Lisa Englander, life enrichment manager for Presbyterian Village North (PVN). “Just because most of these residents are retired doesn’t mean they are done trying new things and staying busy. They crave events that expand their cultural perception of the world, ones that introduce them to people from different walks of life, activities that give them something to talk about and excursions that provide opportunities for unique experiences. The holidays are no exception.”


In addition to the community’s traditional tree decorating and lighting ceremony, PVN invited area schools to celebrate with the residents as well. One of the most exciting things of note was a visit from the Hamilton Park Pacesetter Magnet School Glee Club made up of sixth graders. They recently performed Christmas carols for residents living at Presbyterian Village North. Every year, the Glee Club goes ‘on tour’ and brings cheer to seniors. The choir consists of approximately 40 students from Hamilton Park, the first magnet school in Dallas. The school has a rich history and a diverse student population. The school’s mission is to develop students through innovative and diverse learning experiences in a multicultural environment. Leaving the campus to interact with seniors at an intergenerational event supports this mission while benefiting the residents by providing a fulfilling experience.


“We also scheduled a performance by Angela’s Angels who performed a ballet recital for residents,” said Englander. “The residents just love seeing kids that remind them of their own grandchildren perform. In addition, we had a holiday breakfast taco and pancake bar, our annual Candlelight dinner, a caroling performance by the Women’s Chorus of Dallas and other Christmas sing-alongs. One popular outing included taking residents to see the Gift of Christmas at the Prestonwood Baptist church, which included a live nativity scene with camels, zebras and goats.  We also went caroling, looking at Christmas lights, venturing to the 12 Days of Christmas display at the Dallas Arboretum and attending a performance by the Big Brassy Christmas performance. It has been an extremely busy and fulfilling holiday season for residents, and it has created opportunities for them to get to know their neighbors. PVN just completed the first phase of a $93 million expansion project earlier this year, so we have many new faces in our community. Our hope is that residents find joy in making new traditions and experiencing fabulous events with their peers in addition to the time spent with their families.”

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Mary Bono, 90, a resident of Presbyterian Village North, is volunteering her time and using her talents to serve others and has been since she was a young girl. She is going strong and staying active, and she believes that this purpose helps her maintain a sense of well-being. Giving back is something that always came naturally for Bono, who views the opportunity to serve others as a chance to pay forward the goodness she experienced in her own life.




“I’ve been playing the piano since I was six years old, so I volunteer my talents as a pianist on many occasions,” said Bono. “From playing in church to providing music for seniors in need of skilled nursing care or for memorial services of loved ones passed, I have spent 84 years playing the piano for other people. It brings me a lot of joy seeing people appreciate the music I play. I have been very blessed throughout my lifetime, and I view volunteer work as my chance to be a blessing to someone else. When you have a strong religious faith, you feel a desire and need to give back to others who are not as fortunate as yourself or who just need some help. I enjoy sharing my time and talents to make a positive impact on the lives of other people.”




Bono has also been actively involved in church projects throughout her childhood and adult life. She eventually got a bookkeeping job for the East Dallas Christian Church, where she worked for 10 to 12 years. The skills she learned there served as a foundation for other kinds of volunteer work. When Bono and her husband lived in the Rio Grande Valley in McAllen, they spent 15 years volunteering at the Rio Grande Regional Hospital, where she did bookkeeping. In 1977 when they came back to Dallas, she volunteered more bookkeeping services at Network-Ministries Communities food pantry in Richardson, as well as at the Baylor Family Health Center in Richardson. Now, she volunteers at Presbyterian Village North, assisting with maintenance of the library, bookkeeping for the community’s volunteer-led store and playing the piano for memorial services or for the entertainment of seniors living in health services. Previously, she volunteered for 10 years as the administrative assistant for the spiritual life department.




“The Pantry at PVN is a store with low-cost personal care and food items for residents or employees,” said Bono. “It serves as a convenience for residents in health services and employees who need something during work hours. The Pantry is all volunteer-led, from the people who stock and organize the shelves to those who run the registers. My role is to maintain the books. We feel the store is a wonderful service for those living and working in our 63-acre community. We have everything people might need from freshly made bistro snacks to quick and easy frozen entrees to greeting cards, snacks, beverages, personal care items and more.”




“Volunteering keeps me active as I age,” said Bono. “I enjoy having the ability to give back to others, as it provides me with a sense of value and purpose. I like waking up every day knowing I have something to do that makes a difference, big or small. It feels good to be a part of something that is beyond yourself. I actively recruit other people to join me in the volunteer work and am a good saleswoman for the benefits of giving back. It’s important to help others who need extra support. You never know when you might be in their position, and you’ll be thankful when someone helps you.”





“While some people are philanthropic during the months of November and December, Mary looks for ways to give back year round,” said Lisa Englander, life enrichment manager for Presbyterian Village North. “She is a true inspiration to everyone at PVN, and we appreciate her diligence. She ensures we have no shortage of volunteers when we need help. I’ve seen her actively recruit other residents to assist in her efforts. We are fortunate to have Mary contribute to our community.”

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About one in eight U.S. women (roughly 12 percent) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime. When Joyce Well, admissions services coordinator for Presbyterian Village North, received a call at work in January 2009 and learned she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, she was stunned. She never thought it would be her, and as a million thoughts crossed her mind she found herself shocked that she was now one of those one in eight women. Anybody could be one of the one in eight women, which is why Presbyterian Village North (PVN) is hosted a Lunch and Learn presentation for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The event was led by Heather Ashby, who is a trained volunteer with Susan G. Komen and works as the director of residential and assisted living for PVN. Ashby presentd current information and research. To conclude, a resident and teammate panel answered questions during a Q & A session. Survivors, or “thrivers,” as they prefer to be called, were able to share their journeys and answer questions for those in attendance. Well is an eight-year thriver and going as strong as ever, but with a new perspective on life and death. Ashby is a one-year thriver.


“When I heard the diagnosis at 9:00 a.m., I went into fighting mode right away,” said Well. “I booked an appointment with my doctor later that day at 2:00 p.m. and made an appointment with the surgeon as well. I had my surgery that very month, then started chemo and radiation. In the subsequent months, I went through six rounds of chemo and 33 rounds of radiation. While I heard terrible things about chemo and radiation treatments, it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever been through. There were side effects, of course, but I got through it just fine. It was not easy, but I remained hopeful and confident. Honestly, it was a mental thing for me. I didn’t dwell on the outcome, I accepted that the treatment may or may not work and I just stayed mentally focused on doing what I needed to do to hopefully overcome it.”


Well strived to maintain normalcy in her life as much as she could during her recovery. It was very important to her that she look and feel as normal as possible. When she lost her hair, she got a wig and false eyelashes so no one noticed. She didn’t dwell on it with family and friends, instead choosing to do the same things they always did and talk about all the things they always conversed about. She didn’t let the statistics get to her and she didn’t let outside influences get to her either.


“During the course of my treatment, they advised me to only look at two websites they referred me to,” said Well. “They suggested that I didn’t look at any other information. When fear crept in, it was hard not to give in to the urge to Google it to learn more, but I avoided the temptation. I told myself I wouldn’t let it get in my head, and that what I don’t know couldn’t affect me emotionally. I am so glad I followed their advice. Turns out I had triple-negative breast cancer, but at the time I didn’t realize how serious that was. In the post-recovery appointments, I learned just how serious it really is. I feel incredibly lucky to be alive today.”


Well has met other women who were diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, and most only had one to two years to make the most of their life. She does not understand why she has been so lucky, but she concludes that it was just not her time and continues to lead a life in which she gives to and serves people every day. Her journey of conquering breast cancer did change her perspective on death though.


“Before I got the diagnosis, I had a fear of death,” said Well. “I work in health care and understand that people die every day, but yet it still scared me. My diagnosis changed every feeling I had about death. I came to terms with the fact that it could happen to anyone at any time because you cannot control what happens all of the time. I knew it was out of my hands, but I still gave it my best shot. I don’t have a fear of death anymore. It gave me a whole different emotional outlook on what’s happening in the world.”


Well’s advice for women who have not been diagnosed is to do regular self-checks. She has a mammogram every year, and in December 2008 she had her annual female checkup, which went well. Three weeks later, she felt a lump and made an appointment right away to have it checked out. If you think there might be an issue or are just getting diagnosed, her advice is to act quickly. Do what needs to be done. Her final advice is to maintain as much normalcy as people are able. It helped her tremendously. She continued to go to work and do many of the things she did previously during her treatments.


“At Presbyterian Village North, we want to be a resource to those who are or could be affected by breast cancer,” said Ashby. “In addition to the Lunch and Learn, the community is wore pink on Fridays to raise even more awareness. We are glad that people like Joyce are willing to share their stories because it instills hope and confidence in others who are going through similar experiences.”