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Tag Archive | "Sparta Senior Neighbors"

Veterans soar with Dream Flight


Four Veterans who are members of the Sparta Senior Neighbors center were offered a Dream Flight. These four courageous men, ranging in age from 74 to 95 years old, took flight on July 11, in a WWII Boeing Stearman Biplane. These planes were used in the 1940s to train pilots during WWII. Back then they were not painted in the pretty bright colors they are today.

It was a gorgeous day. The sky was blue. The veterans agreed that it couldn’t have been a more perfect day to fly in an open cockpit plane.

Lloyd Mitz, age 95 years old, was a Corporal T5 in the 13th Armored. Lloyd was Recon in the WWII Battle of the Bulge. He traveled all over Germany in three different armies during the time he served.  He saved an officer’s life by taking him to a German doctor after being hit with shrapnel.

Jim Hoogerhyde, age 92 years old, was a S1C (AMM) in the Navy during WWII. Jim oversaw the 80 Boeing Stearman Biplanes and directed the pilots in and out of the base. Jim, just a young 18-year-old, was responsible for working in and around dangerous equipment. He remembers a near death experience working on a plane.

Dave Huhn, age 76 years old, was a staff sergeant who flew in the RC130’s in the Air Force during the 1960s. Dave was a Russian linguist and flew 1,000 hours off the coast of Warsaw Pact countries.

Don Zimmerman, age 74 years old, was a SP4 in the Army. Don was a low-pressure boiler operator in the 1960s. He came from a military family with two brothers serving, one in the Air Force and another in the Marines.

Pilot Mike Sommars and his wife Lynn greeted each veteran. Mike is currently an American Airlines pilot. Mike and Lynn give their time to the Ageless Aviation organization, which provides Dream Flights to veterans around the U.S.

Darryl Fisher, who is a pilot out of Washington, founded Ageless Aviation. Darryl had a dream to make a difference in senior citizen’s lives, as they profoundly influenced him during his formative years.

Jane Ringler, coordinator for the Sparta Senior Neighbors, contacted the Miller Sparta Airport requesting flights for the seniors. Airport manager Vic Johnston was helpful in connecting this local senior center with Ageless Aviation.

“Fortunately, Mike and Lynn could make time for our veterans with such short notice,” commented Ringler. “We are so grateful to Vic, the Miller Airport, Mike, Lynn, and everyone at Ageless Aviation. Our vets had a memorable day and were given the royal treatment.”

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Senior neighbors take a trip to the Kent


N-Senior-NeighborsThe historic Kent Theatre in Cedar Springs was the entertainment for the Sparta Senior Neighbors on Wednesday June 1.

The Sparta center was provided transportation to and from this nostalgic theatre by Senior Neighbors and Ride Link. This energetic group of seniors, ranging from age 60 and older, received a walk down memory lane as they entered this wonderfully restored theatre from days gone by. The seniors were treated to the movie Jungle Book, as well as popcorn and a drink served to them from the Theatre’s antique equipment. The smiles couldn’t have been brighter as these seniors enjoyed yet another day out together exploring what our community has to offer.

Senior Neighbors offers any Kent County resident 60 years and older a program that includes several valuable services.  The program may include wellness speakers, exercise classes, healthy lunches, parties, raffles with prizes, educational classes geared for senior citizens, games, fun outings, various crafting interest groups, worship services, bus transportation,  health related checks from blood pressure to hearing aid and foot care,  and more. The centers are located throughout Kent County, making it convenient for anyone to attend the functions and events offered Monday through Friday of every week.

The consensus from the large number of senior citizens who take advantage of the Senior Neighbor services is that they feel a part of an extended family and are given a sense of belonging. They also feel empowered with the educational and informative items discussed from day to day. The daily entertainment brings laughter and enrichment to these seniors’ lives.

The Senior Neighbors’ mission is to promote independent living for people age 60 years and older in our community. These essential services are offered to help senior citizens remain independent into their later years. Senior Neighbors is supported in part by the Kent County Millage, the Area Agency on Aging of West Michigan, Kent County businesses and an advisory council of volunteers.

Lois Hall, a member of the Sparta Senior Neighbors center for the last seven years, said that she enjoys coming to the center to meet her friends and have company during her days. Lois said, “It’s a great place to meet people and to spend my day.” Lois commented that she never feels alone anymore.

Any senior citizen age 60 years and older is welcome at any center.  Please stop by a center near you to see what is happening and pick up a newsletter with a schedule of events and activities. You will receive a warm welcome by not only the center coordinator, but the other members of that particular center. Kent County centers are located in Sparta (ph: 887-1273), Walker (ph: 735-3240), Lowell (ph: 897-5949), Grand Rapids (ph: 459-3040) and Grandville (ph: 531-5250). Transportation is provided to the centers if needed.

“Together we can age with grace, dignity and a whole lot of fun,” added Sparta Center Coordinator Jane Ringler, who resides in Cedar Springs. Jane says that she loves going to her job at the center and it is because of the senior citizens she works for that make it such a pleasant and happy place to be.

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