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Adult Day "walks the walk" in showing appreciation for veterans accent

June 2, 2021 | By

Lending Hands, a WesleyLife Adult Day center in Washington, Iowa, has a special way of letting its participants who are veterans know how much their service is appreciated. 

They don't tell them; they show them.

Two Washington-area veterans, one who served in Korea and another who served in Vietnam, will be traveling to Washington, D.C., on Honor Flights this year, both thanks to Lending Hands team members who are helping complete paperwork and coordinate logistics.

Jim Redlinger of Washington, who spends time at Lending Hands with his wife, is scheduled to take an Honor Flight later this year. Jim spent four years in Korea as a radio operator on fighter planes, crossing the Pacific 37 times, and still remembers the helplessness of watching a friend's plane experience mechanical problems and crash into the ocean.

"I just want to see that wall, to see if his name is on it," Jim said, adding one of his children will accompany him on the flight. "I don't know what to expect, but I'm 85 now, and I think I ought to do it."

Jim was aware of Honor Flights -- his brother participated in one -- but hadn't considered taking  a flight of his own until Heidi Wheeler, a life enrichment partner at Lending Hands, and another team member suggested it. Heidi had been asked to accompany another Lending Hands participant, Vietnam veteran Eldon Miller, on a flight, and thought Jim should try to go as well.

"Eldon is blind, and he's one of the most inspirational people I know," Heidi said. "He won't be able to see the memorials, but that's not stopping him. He loves to golf and ski. Experiencing the honor flight with him will be such a privilege for me, and we thought Jim should be part of it, too, in appreciation for his service." 

Jim said the fact that Lending Hands team members help participants take advantage of opportunities outside their walls shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.

"They really care here," Jim said. "It's a good place to come and spend time so you don't get bored; life after retirement is not always real exciting. My wife has dementia, and we started bringing her here five days a week. She used to fight us, but now she loves it. Everyone is real good to her here, and they're good enough to put up with me, too."

Heidi said "putting up with" Jim and other participants is a privilege -- one for which she's thankful each day.

"We form real relationships with the people here; it's more than just a place to work," Heidi said. "I'm inspired by the stories of the people I meet here. They have had such long and interesting lives. I learn things all the time, and I'm not just saying it when I tell you I love these people."

Wesley Life Adult Day centers -- including Lending Hands in Washington, Dahl Adult Day in Des Moines, and Willowbrook in Newton -- ensure individuals who need assistance and involvement during the day enjoy a sense of independence while receiving support and encouragement. To learn more about Adult Day centers and programming, call WesleyLife at (515) 978-2777. 

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