Shirley Koller next to  Seurat’s masterpiece. /Irina MissiuroShirley Koller next to Seurat’s masterpiece. /Irina MissiuroShirley Koller – artist, curator, educator – is at a point in her life when she no longer has to do something she doesn’t like. And, having lived a full life, she knows what appeals to her and what does not. Among her dislikes are: dry chicken, gossip, cliques and artificial flowers. The latter are a particular bane of her existence. As we settle down on a comfortable couch inside one of Laurelmead’s gorgeous rooms with Victorian dimensions, she points to one of the two vases on nearby end tables, “These were everywhere!”

Koller is referring to the time when she entered the senior retirement community 2 1/2 years ago. Since then, she’s volunteered to transform the room we are sitting in, and some others, with artworks she considers to be more fitting for the space. Koller dispensed with the still lifes and the bouquets and hung some reproductions of well-known masterpieces that feature people enjoying life.

Sarah Brody and Sandy Cotton at The Phyllis Siperstein Tamarisk Assisted Living Residence.Sarah Brody and Sandy Cotton at The Phyllis Siperstein Tamarisk Assisted Living Residence.Some may consider this story a very small flash in the realm of time. Others may consider it destiny or bashert, as it is referred to in Yiddish. It is about a small moment of fate – an encounter that took six decades to occur. This is a true story that allows one to believe that the world we live in is, indeed, very small.

On June 6, 1944, Canadian, British and American soldiers landed on the beaches of Normandy. Under the code name Operation Overlord, more than 150,000 troops stormed the coast to take back Western Europe from Nazi control. Many casualties ensued. Because of the heroism of the soldiers, physicians and nurses, this battle marked the beginning of the end of World War II.  Two of these heroes, Sarah Brody and Sandy Cotton, now live at The Phyllis Siperstein Tamarisk Assisted Living Residence in Warwick. And as proof of what a small world it is, the former nurse and soldier first met during the Normandy invasion before reconnecting many years later at Tamarisk.

Phyllis Arffa at work. /Elissa ArffaPhyllis Arffa at work. /Elissa ArffaHere’s what Elissa Arffa wrote:

“My hero is my daughter Phyllis Arffa. She works very hard running and cooking at BLAZE, a Hope street restaurant on the East Side of Providence. She learned about hard work and giving to others while she spent her junior year of high school at an agricultural school in Israel.

“She gives to the community in many ways. This is the fourth year she has provided 100 Thanksgiving meals to homebound elderly through the Mt. Hope Neighborhood Association. She also donates her time and food to many other community organizations such as: AIDS Care of RI, Southside Community Land Trust and various woman’s groups such as those that help women who have been trafficked for sex or slavery.

Memoir group participants Morton Paige and Lillian Siegel. /Karen FerrantiMemoir group participants Morton Paige and Lillian Siegel. /Karen FerrantiIn a new memoir writing group, residents at EPOCH on the East Side are recalling faded memories to write prose under the guidance of Rita Watson, a and Providence Journal columnist. In April she joined EPOCH on the East Side as a part-time receptionist, after cutting back on academic work to begin writing books. Watson, who has a master’s degree in public health, previously served as education and policy director at Yale and later for a group with the Harvard Consortium of teaching hospitals.

Initially, many of the residents and staff didn’t realize Watson was a professional writer, but when they started seeing her name in the paper, they put two and two together. Watson had been writing memoirs about her grandparents for The Journal; EPOCH’s Life Enrichment Director Karen Ferranti asked, “Will you do something like this for us? We would love it.”

Watson happily agreed, excited to help residents write memoirs so they could pass them down to their children and grandchildren. Since it first began earlier this summer, the memoir group has been well received by the residents. One of the first participants was Sylvia Denhoff who continues to attend memoir group meetings.

Cranston – The Senior Real Estate Solutions Good Deeds Program is seeking applications from eligible seniors in need of home repair or maintenance. 

The Good Deeds Program was developed by Bruce Lane, a local Realtor with Williams and Stuart Real Estate in Cranston and founder of Senior Real Estate Solutions.  Noting that some seniors could not afford the services needed for proper maintenance of their homes, Lane established a grant for seniors with limited financial means through Senior Real Estate Solutions, a free referral source for seniors looking for home maintenance and repair professionals.