Seniors citizens get star treatment on new calendar

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Seniors citizens get star treatment on new calendarPictured: Photographer Kyle Hirsch helps Charlie Cowie capture the essence of Agent 007 — yielding the finished project pictured at left. — Photo by Laura Austin

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The Golden Age of cinema converged with the Golden Years of residents at High Desert Haven in a calendar that temporarily transformed some of our local seniors into icons of the silver screen.

The idea came when Mary Noh, service chair of the local chapter of Altrusa International, received via e-mail a photo gallery of residents in a German senior-care facility dressed up as actors from classic movies.

“I immediately thought that Altrusa could possibly do this with the residents of High Desert Haven as a service project,” she said.

So she contacted Abraham Mathew, owner of High Desert Haven, and he readily agreed.

Noh also found residents who agreed to participate, though they varied in their degree of excitement at the prospect.

The next phase turned out to be the most complicated and time-consuming — gathering the necessary costumes, accessories and props to turn our seniors into stars.

Noh said she is grateful to Community Light Opera and Theatre Association, Farris Family Players and the DART Thrift Store, each of which helped her gather the necessary items (minus a few specialty props that had to be ordered — like Audrey Hepburn’s unforgettable cigarette holder from her turn as Holly Golightly in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”)

The next phase included local photographer Kyle Kirsch, assisted by a host of volunteers acting as the styling and production team, capturing seniors channelling James Bond, the Blues Brothers, Rocky, Mary Poppins and many more.

“With the exception of one or two who were a little grumpy during the shoot, everyone had a really fun time,” said Noh.

“But everyone — even those who might have been reluctant during the shoot — was absolutely thrilled by the final results.

The 12 photos show the beloved residents — some more recognizable than others — disappearing into their theatrical roles.

Noh particularly praised the facility’s celebrated 110-year-old resident Opal Goode, who portrayed Golightly.

“She is so sharp and congenial, and she was really wonderful to work with.”

Noh said that although the original intent was to present the calendars as a gift to the participating seniors, Altrusans have received enough interest that they are considering selling the calendars as a fund-raiser.

“I talked to Abraham about giving money to High Desert Haven, but he said if we have a fund-raiser he wants the money to go to the women’s shelter or some other charitable cause.”

Noh acknowledged that the project, in addition to boosting morale for the seniors and potentially supporting a worthy cause, also helps honor some of the seniormost residents in our community.

“I’m not sure our seniors are always acknowledged and honored like they should be. It seems like we kind of forget about them sometimes.

“That’s one of the reasons I wanted to do this. And seeing their faces when they saw the calendar — that made everything worth it.”

To order a calendar, or find out how to contribute to future Altursa service projects, call Noh at 760-382-5205.

Story First Published: 2017-12-08