Residents Financially Helping Residents?

Written by Panorama resident, Mary Jo Shaw. February 2020

Our Benevolent Fund (BF) is unique. It’s an independent 501(c)(3) charitable organization operated by residents to benefit residents. The Benevolent Fund provides financial assistance to independent living residents who have outlived their financial resources. Since starting in 1972, it has given more than $2.5 million directly to residents who were in need. BF presents each resident a free SARA® pendant when they become a resident. We press the pendant if we fall or if we’re in an emergency situation anywhere on our campus.

It also funds the three full-time Social Services Advisors through Independent Living Services. Those advisors help us as we age in place. Benevolent Fund began a program to help up to three assisted-living residents with partial financial support. Actually, BF depends on the continuing generosity of our residents, which includes our monetary donations and bequests…and in unique ways!

If we ever end up with things we no longer need(furniture, office items, appliances, home décor, etc.), we call our Stiles-Beach Barn, and/or Encore Furniture and Books to make an appointment for pick-up.  A large white truck, with several Benevolent Fund volunteers, show up at our door to haul our items away to the appropriate building to be priced and sold…by other happy, cheerful volunteers. They also hold the popular, more-than-huge Panorama Annual Patio Sale with volunteers selling items that were not sold during the rest of the year. But the reverse is to our benefit…when we need items during the year, we head to the Barn or Encore conveniently located right on our campus to shop! No need to look at prices – the costs are too good to be true!

Around Valentine’s Day, we look forward to the Benevolent Fund’s Annual Silent Auction in our Seventeen51 Restaurant. At the fun event, organized to perfection, we get to bid on great items (donated by residents and our faithful local merchants), such as:

  • Gift baskets with appetizers (wines, cheeses, crackers, etc.), fruits and desserts, packaged pasta or salmon dinner items, or combinations of non-foods.
  • Fine wines of every sort
  • Many gift cards/certificates for restaurants, groceries, travel trips, performances, theaters, etc.
  • Framed artwork by Panorama and non-Panorama artists, antiques and fun items
  • Too many other great entries to mention

Tickets for the 50/50 drawing brought a sizable income…split between resident and Benevolent Fun. (I won $500 one year!)

After a hearty lunch just before arriving, I laid my bulging eyes on the expansive food-table topped with large round trays of gourmet shrimp, individual quiches, sliced melons and fruits,  large metal bowls of different varieties of salads, Hungarian meatballs in thick sauce, egg rolls, and on and on.

I don’t want you to drool, Reader, so just draw an “imaginative photo” of the decisions we made with the desserts!

We feasted while visiting and listening to Clint P’s mic articulating the “winners”. My ears tuned in for Diane S’s donated, large basket of specially selected fruits of Hawaiian papaya, mango, kiwi, large organic blackberries, pears, apples, grapes and bananas.

Finally, “Mary Jo Shaw, come up.” Get this! Diane S. will deliver us a seasonal basket three more times! We are indulging in the fruits, especially when cut-up and topped with plain Greek yogurt and slivered almonds or in our cereals and oatmeal. What a treat…our kind of dessert/snack!

On top of these benefits, all of our gifts are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Gail Madden, current president of the Benevolent Fund, says, “We need you, because you need us.”

It’s always a win-win. Thanks again, Panorama and Residents!

The Joy of Learning and Living

Written by Panorama resident, Bob Bowers. February 2020

Roupen S. threw a worm into Panorama’s lake and I was one of 50 Panorama fish who took the bait and got hooked. What he offered us was essentially a brief history of music and musical composition. What we got was the enthusiastic musicology course we didn’t have in college. Sounds boring doesn’t it – like a course for uppity nerds. But, if that’s what you think, you are overwhelmingly wrong.

It wasn’t the music that primarily excited my soul; although, honestly, it did. The music came from many disks played on a tiny Bose. I had heard many of them on my own tiny Bose. Roupen had them laid out before him and selected each illuminating sample as it became appropriate in his course outline. He would give us a smattering of lecture and illustrate it with a tiny sample of music. Then, when he had to interrupt the music, he would shudder, smile, and apologize because he hated moving on before the full beauty of the whole piece had been savored.

The course was temptingly presented. The lecture wasn’t in the least boring. It wasn’t as though Roupen had carefully scripted himself and his subject matter in the King’s English. He didn’t use a contemporary razzle-dazzle projector with high wattage that shows stunning photographs. Nor did we pass around magnificent photos of composers and the interiors of church sanctuaries or views of the orchestra and opera halls of the world. He didn’t put an ensemble before us to play superbly. He simply drew black squiggly lines on modern white presentation board to show us how music developed.

What was striking about this presentation was Roupen! His intense eyes…his warm smile…his obvious enthusiasm for music…his deep knowledge of his subject…and the way he gently bared his soul to us about his life’s work of composing, teaching, and continuing to learn. He was so infectiously earnest about what he was attempting to do in this brief course that we came away with little flecks of enthusiasm on us to use wherever we might in life. What a rich experience for those of us in our older years who think we know everything and, then, gently learn through teachers like Roupen what delights still lie before us and how much we have yet to learn.

Roupen helped me look at my own art of writing and telling stories in a different way. Why do I write? Why do I love writing? I’ve been literally writing all my life. I was encouraged to write by two English teachers in high school. They thought I had budding talent. They urged me to become a journalist or author.

Mom and Dad didn’t encourage me to write because Mom didn’t and Dad couldn’t. Mom was a church musician who played piano and organ at our small Methodist church. She had sung solos in her college years and after. Mom didn’t make time to write anything except letters. She wrote lots of them to friends and family. She wrote a letter every week to our family for forty years until she became a resident of a nursing home. She wanted me to be a musician and sing solos. She pushed hard.

Dad was not encouraged to read or write. His poor farm family had little education and none of them except Uncle George graduated from high school. Most of them went to grade school, if they got that far. At an early age, they were put to work either at home or on loan as farmhands or housemaids.

Dad insisted I go to college. He didn’t care what I took. The Drake University College of Liberal Arts introduced me to life beyond Mitchellville, my little hometown. My grade average was 3.67. From Drake, I went to Garrett, a graduate school of theology of the Methodist Church. I was ordained in 1961. My new bride and I moved to our first full-time appointment in the Methodist ministry.

I wrote many sermons in the ministry. I enjoyed writing them and, to some extent, preaching them. But sermons are designed to teach the Biblical story and inspire holy living but, not necessarily, to inspire the writer to bare that which is deep inside him. Whenever I was moved to let what was inside out in the hopes of being either inspirational or pedagogical, the act of preaching inspired some of my parishioners to try to be pedagogical with me. I wasn’t any more enthusiastic about pedagogy from them than they were to receive what I had to give.

I’ve found since being in Pan Writers under Bryan’s gentle guidance that writing is about letting the deepest emotion of my soul breathe free. It’s about releasing the observations, loves, and hates of the author’s life. Writing is a way of opening one’s self in interaction with other humans. It’s about naming what thrills and moves us in our lives. Writing is an emotional act, a releasing act, a creating act. Good writing is like all creative endeavors: it breathes and has a life that can inspire more life. It moves us to name our loves and conquer our misconceptions and hates. It swerves us from the path of “my way is right and yours is wrong” to the road of “let’s help each other find a way that works”.

So, Roupen, your little class was an inspiration to spur me to do some thinking about who I am and why I write. I caught something from your presentation that moved me from beyond myself. I’ve got a few more years to think about it…a few more years to explore this amazing world…a few more years to write. Thanks!