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Tevlin: Photos lining his wall reveal a lifetime of helping others

December 16, 2016
On the day before Thanksgiving, Larry Bauer-Scandin sat alone in his wheelchair in the bedroom of his apartment in an assisted-living complex in Maplewood. Alone, but in a way, surrounded by family.

Pictures lined the walls in neat rows, dozens of photos in matching frames of the ones he calls “my kids.”

Bauer-Scandin is legally blind, and his motor functions are weak and erratic from some still uncertain nervous-system disorder, a disease that has put him at Ecumen Seasons of Maplewood facility, though he’s only 66.

He takes a laser pointer and fixes it on a skinny kid with a wary smile.

“This one, his mother and boyfriend rented him out at night to the bar crowd,” Bauer-Scandin said bluntly.

“He would come to my room at night and complain of a toothache or something. That would be my signal to pick him up and take him to the rocker and rock him until he could sleep.”

Bauer-Scandin put the laser on another boy. “He committed suicide about three years ago.”

Then onto another photo.

“That kid, in November 1986 I cut him down, hanging from an electrical cord in the basement. He came home to die.”

There are lots of good stories, too. There better be when you’ve been a correctional foster parent for 125 of the most challenging kids in the state.

Before a mysterious childhood illness, some thought it was multiple sclerosis, returned in recent years, Bauer-Scandin had been a jail counselor, therapist, parole officer and finally, foster parent to kids in the juvenile justice system.

“I told my wife we majored in teenagers, certified, bona fide juvenile delinquents,” Bauer-Scandin said.

He ran a foster home that was licensed for 10 kids in St. Paul, but when the courts couldn’t find fits for especially troubled or violent kids, Bauer-Scandin took them in. At one time, he had 17 kids in a sprawling home near the State Fair grounds.

Bauer-Scandin developed an early sense of empathy because of his medical problems. He vividly recalls almost dying at age 9 and spending four months in the hospital next to a kid with leukemia. When the boy died, Bauer-Scandin heard his mother’s scream.

“Life takes on a strangely serious note when you hear that as a little kid.”

Bauer-Scandin’s health improved and for many years he lived a relatively “normal” life, apart from partial blindness.

He developed an interest in psychology and became a therapist, but his life took several sudden turns that he sees as being directed by the Lord’s hand to the job he was made for: taking in kids nobody else wanted.

He wrote about many of him in his self-published autobiography, “Faces on the Clock.”

Though many of the kids died or ended up in jail, there were also successes, and he keeps in touch with about 20 of the people whose faces line his walls.

At least two are photos of police officers, and a few kids went on to serve in the military.

“This kid is probably the closest I’ll get to a millionaire,” he said, pointing to another.

He recalls the kid, who came from a wealthy suburb, settling into his new home in a sketchy part of Marshall Avenue.

“I asked him how a kid who came from the land of porterhouse steaks [could] be so happy in the land of casseroles, and he said, ‘It’s not hard when people care about you,’ ” Bauer-Scandin said.

Because of his limited mobility and continued pain, Bauer-Scandin moved into the assisted-living complex a couple of years ago. His wife of 16 years, Peg, lives in Vadnais Heights.

At first he was dejected. “I looked out the window and said, ‘Is this it? Is this the last car? The last house?’ But what are you going to do?

“So, I got up the next day and went to breakfast and met somebody,” he said. “And I realized there were 170 other somebodies, and they all need something, and I can help.”

 

jtevlin@startribune.com 612-673-1702

An Earful of Fun at Ecumen Seasons at Maplewood: Home of the Melodious ‘Maple Nuts’

December 16, 2016

A spirited group of women residents at Ecumen Seasons at Maplewood are belting out show tunes with conviction. “There’s nothing like a dame,” they sing.

They call themselves the “Maple Nuts” — an instant tipoff that they are a good-humored bunch.

The Maple Nuts are united by their love of singing.  They range in age from 70 to 96.  Most have sung all their lives, usually in church choirs.

They gather every Thursday, not just to sing but also to learn the techniques of singing better.

This all started coincidentally.  Pastor Sue Schoon was conducting Sunday worship services at Seasons at Maplewood. Janet Babcock, the activity director at Seasons, knew that there was a group of women longing to sing and that Pastor Sue was especially well-equipped to enable them.

Before going to seminary, Pastor Sue was a professional singer and taught singing at Concordia College in Moorhead. 

“I’d love to do that!” Pastor Sue said without hesitation when asked to lead the group last September.  So the singers organized.  They named themselves the Maple Nuts and ordained Pastor Sue their “Wing Nut.” 

They are working toward giving a concert this summer.  And, make no mistake, they are working.

“Spit out the words,” Pastor Sue commands. “Slowly!  Use your tongue!  Have fun with the song.  It’s meant to be playful. Everybody with me now….”

And the ladies tunefully intone: “There is nothing like a dame!”

As the afternoon progresses, the Maple Nuts move through the songs of “South Pacific” with Pastor Sue coaching at the piano. “Now, there are two notes with this word…”

The Maple Nuts clearly love the session and the company of one another.  They laugh and tease.

“I used to sing all the time,” says one Maple Nut.

And another cracks, “’Used-To’ is your middle name.”

Pastor Sue and Activity Assistant Mara Coyle pop around the room, giving one-on-one attention as the singers rehearse. Today there are a dozen participants, and some weeks there are more.

Pastor Sue is thrilled with their progress.  “They’re getting better all the time,” she says.  “These are gifted people with nice voices.” 

They’ve also being learning patriotic songs, Christmas carols and standards from the 1920s, 30s and 40s.

In addition to their rehearsals, they help with Sunday services by leading the singing.  “This is creating community, home and church,” Pastor Sue says.

As today’s session is winding down, Pastor Sue is still building momentum. She says she’s happy to continue if the Maple Nuts want to keep singing.

No, they say in unison.  “It’s time for happy hour.”

Ecumen Seasons at Maplewood: Chuck McKiernan Gives His Fellow Residents the Gift of Exercise

December 16, 2016

Chuck McKiernan, a resident at Ecumen Seasons at Maplewood, is done with treadmills.  He stills has the scars where he fell off one.  But when his good friend Millie did a treadmill face plant and sustained serious injury, that put him over the edge.

Chuck exercised his checkbook and bought a $6,500 NuStep recumbent cross trainer, which he donated to Seasons at Maplewood in honor of the McKiernan family.

“So many people going through rehab just can’t use a treadmill,” Chuck says.  “They need low impact exercise.”  And he should know. 

While he was going through cardiac rehabilitation at a local hospital, he was walking on a treadmill and had another heart attack.  When he fell, the treadmill didn’t automatically shut down, making a mess of his leg below the knee.

That’s how he first learned about the NuStep, whose inventor was specifically striving for a better, safer type of exercise for those managing heart disease. The NuStep gives a total body workout in a seated position.

This was all swirling in Chuck’s mind as the Residents Council at Seasons at Maplewood was dealing with a budget problem. They were debating priorities — a new security system versus new exercise equipment. Both were important, but the security system got the nod. 

And that’s when Chuck decided to do what he could about the exercise equipment.

“This is such a generous and considerate donation,” says Hope Summers, the Housing Director at Seasons at Maplewood. “We are all so grateful to Chuck for his gift and for his concern for other residents. The NuStep meets a very real need. The residents are lining up to use it.”

“It’s about helping others,” says Chuck, a jovial guy who is enjoying telling fellow residents all about the new machine.  “It’s easy-on, easy-off,” he says, showing a woman how to scoot out of her walker and on to the NuStep.

“I’m not using it as much as I should,” Chuck says.  “But I’m spending a lot of time instructing others.”

To acknowledge the donation a group of grateful well-wishers assembled in the Fitness Center recently. Chuck and his cousin Dale Grambush gathered with Resident Council President Larry Bauer-Scandin, Council Secretary Betty Lundberg, Hope Summers, Ecumen Regional Manager Joe Signore, the former Housing Director here, Maintenance Manager Billy Flanagan, and Ecumen Director of Development Amy Williams.

As the group assembles, Chuck is flipping through a magazine.  “Look here!” he says.  “Here’s my next donation.  It’s a Scrabble game with pieces that are 150 percent bigger.  I know some people who have trouble reading those little pieces.” 

Celebrating the new equipment in the Fitness Center, (front row, left to right)  Resident Council President Larry Bauer-Scandin, Chuck McKiernan, Council Secretary Betty Lundberg and  (back row, left to right) Housing Director Hope Summers, Ecumen Regional Manager Joe Signore, Maintenance Manager Billy Flanagan, and Dale Grambush, Chuck's counsin.

Ecumen Seasons at Maplewood Celebrates 5-Year Anniversary

December 16, 2016

Ecumen Seasons at Maplewood celebrated its five-year anniversary last Thursday with a festive casino night.

Five residents, pictured in the photo above, have lived here since the community opened.  Wearing their tiaras, they are, left to right, Arlyss, Sylvia, Delores, Helen and Millie.

Pictured next to the cake are Ecumen Board member Dick Olson and his wife Martha, who joined in the festivities.  Dick and Martha recently moved to Seasons at Maplewood.

Housing Director Hope Summers hands out chocolate cigars.

Facing the Holidays with an Empty Chair: Ecumen Hospice Hosts Remembrance Service

December 16, 2016

The first holidays after the death of a loved one can be a looming and stressful time for loved ones. To help the family and friends of those who passed away in Ecumen Hospice this year cope with the upcoming holidays, Ecumen Hospice staff hosted a remembrance service on Sunday, Nov. 6, at Ecumen Seasons at Maplewood.

Over 20 people attended the service, titled, “A Time of Remembrance: Facing the Holidays with an Empty Chair,” which was let by Chris Quistad, Ecumen Director of Spiritual Care.  Family and friends took time to reflect, remember and give thanks for the lives of their lost loved ones through prayer, song, conversation and a candle-lighting ceremony. 

One particularly special part of the evening was when the attendees were given a slip of paper and asked to write what they would like to thank their loved one for. They then placed the paper in a small ornament box, which could be taken home and displayed throughout the holidays to remember their loved ones. 

The verse below, a popular piece of scripture used in coping with grieving, was featured in the bulletin handed out at the service.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to weep and a time to laugh”
Ecclesiastes 3:1,4

About Ecumen Hospice

Ecumen Hospice, one of Minnesota’s first hospice programs, has a strong heritage of helping individuals with life-limiting illnesses live each day to the fullest. Our dedicated hospice team provides high quality personalized services including skilled nursing care, spiritual care, bereavement counseling, music and massage therapy, social work, physician services and volunteer companionship care in the Minneapolis/St. Paul and Litchfield areas. Ecumen, founded more than 150 years ago, is a trusted name in senior housing, home care and skilled care.  For more information on Ecumen Hospice go to our website www.ecumenhospice.org or call 651-714-0200 in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area or 320-693-7367 in Litchfield. For more information on Ecumen, go to www.ecumen.org.

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