Articles written by dianne barske


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  • A view of Anchorage in fiber arts

    Dianne Barske, For Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2015

    Anchorage is celebrating its centennial year, 2015, in many ways. One of the first events to come to life, reflecting the community's unique history, was a project of the Anchorage Log Cabin Quilters Guild. A show called "10 Decades and Counting – the Story of Anchorage in Quilts," made its debut in September in the ConocoPhillips atrium. It's an intriguing, stunning display, not only of local quilting skills, but of the colorful history of Anchorage, told through the traditional medium of q...

  • 'Mother' of the Cordova Iceworm Festival recalls its roots, evolution

    Dianne Barske, For Senior Voice|Feb 1, 2015

    It's the 56th year for the Cordova Iceworm Festival, and for more than half of those years, Barbara Beedle chaired the festivities. Current chair of the annual event, Darrel Olsen, calls her "The Mother of the Iceworm Festival." "It's definitely an 'only in Cordova' event," he comments, laughing, "and Barbara long spurred on all that made it one of the most unique, successful festivals in Alaska." Planned for February 2-8 this year, where else could you find locals gathered with visitors from...

  • Celebrating 125 years of service to Alaskan families, children

    Dianne Barske, For Senior Voice|Jan 1, 2015

    The New Year, 2015, represents a landmark year for one agency, AK Child & Family. "It's our quasquicentennial," states Denis McCarville, president and CEO. "How many organizations or businesses in Alaska can make that claim?" Hardly any, even if they know what quasquicentennial means. "The agency can trace its roots back to 1890, so it is our 125th anniversary, our quasquicentennial," he explains. The history of AK Child & Family underscores not only its roots as a faith-based center meeting uni...

  • An interview with a former Jesse Lee Home resident

    Dianne Barske, For Senior Voice|Jan 1, 2015

    Author and educator Dr. James Lewis Simpson was another of the early childhood residents of the Seward Jesse Lee Home. Now age 90 and living in Oregon, he shared some of his early stories in a phone visit with me. His memory is incredibly sharp. "I'm one of the main characters of the Home in Seward," he said, laughing. "I was placed there by my father when I was four years old. My mother had left us when we were living in Chickaloon, Alaska. I am Ahtna Athabascan. My dad had heard of the Home...

  • Alaska enthusiasts flock to annual Christmas Bird Count

    Dianne Barske, For Senior Voice|Dec 1, 2014

    "There's a lot of senior volunteer power behind the annual Anchorage-area Christmas Bird Count." That testimonial to senior volunteerism comes from Louann Feldmann. She's education chair of the Anchorage Audubon Society and will head this year's local Christmas Bird Count (CBC). "We coordinate our bird count with the National Audubon Society," she says. "It's a nationwide, continent-wide happening and will take place on Sunday, December 14 this year." She adds happily, "It's free! And for the...

  • Veterans Week builds at Anchorage center

    Dianne Barske, For Senior Voice|Nov 1, 2014

    "People laugh at me," says Maria James, chairperson of the Senior Veterans Group at the Anchorage Senior Activity Center (ASAC). "I seem able to spot a veteran – often a cap with pins and medals is a clue – and I chase after them." Maria is in hot pursuit because of her compulsion to let them know of their benefits as a veteran, and to encourage them to get to know other veterans at the center. "So many veterans are not aware of the benefits available to them," she says. Known for net...

  • New Anchorage senior center manager feels right at home

    Dianne Barske, For Senior Voice|Oct 1, 2014

    "Where's my calculator?" Eyes popping in surprise, Rebecca Parker proclaims, "Yes. It's true. I have been in Anchorage for 41 years!" Becky and I have known each other for most of those 41 years. We'd met long ago as members of Alaska Press Women, now called Alaska Professional Communicators. I am sitting with her in her new office setting at the Anchorage Senior Activity Center, where she has recently been named General Manager. Feeling like old friends who hadn't had a chance to visit in sever...

  • Serving up a healthy lifestyle in Sitka

    Dianne Barske, For Senior Voice|Jul 1, 2014

    "This is the heart of Sitka for so many seniors." Anita VanDyck shared this with me as she was busy serving desserts, fresh fruit cups, to several tables at Swan Lake Senior Center for the Friday noon meal. Anita is a longtime volunteer there. Fridays are Bingo days at the center and site manager Sandi Koval had assured me there would be quite a crowd. About 40 people had gathered there on a bleak, damp Sitka day, but inside there was sunshine. The minute I entered, I felt welcomed, almost as...

  • Friends and poles add to the fun

    Dianne Barske, For Senior Voice|Jun 1, 2014

    I followed along as Tim Chinn, fitness director at the Anchorage Senior Activity Center, glided ahead of me. "Try Nordic pole walking," my orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Stephen Tower, had advised, following my three knee replacement surgeries. "It's rather like cross country skiing, minus the snow and the skis." I'd never heard of it, but here I was, giving it a try at the center, under Tim's able guidance. Tim swept along silently in front, poling his way down hallways and across lobbies and through...

  • Changing lives through literacy

    Dianne Barske, For Senior Voice|May 1, 2014

    I sat there, transfixed by the diversity in the room. "Sad, sadder, saddest," Cindy Johnson said to the group. She wrote the three words on the board at the front of the classroom, then drew simple faces wearing these three expressions. She passed out paper. "Draw," she told the class. It seemed as if the world had found its way to one room that morning. Sitting at the long, classroom tables were several people from both Sudan and the Dominican Republic, someone from Somalia and Mexico,...

  • Always ready with more TLC

    Dianne Barske, For Senior Voice|Apr 1, 2014

    It's Tuesday morning, and Elise Patkotak is heading off to the Bird Treatment and Learning Center on King Street in Anchorage. She has volunteered for this early shift for 14 years. "I feel so privileged to be this close to the birds, to actually get to handle them," she says. And with her characteristic, somewhat quirky sense of humor, she adds, "I don't know if the birds feel the same way about me." She admits she has long been enthralled with birds. It all started with Adeline – one bird ...

  • Retirement didn't work for her

    Dianne Barske, For Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2014

    Thirty-two years of teaching seemed like a long stretch to Chris Walker. Time to try something new? She pulled the plug on her teaching career and looked forward to retirement. "I was happy. I decided to do all those activities I'd put on hold but had never had time to do. Here I go," she thought. That lasted a relatively short time. "I volunteered at the Palmer Library and for Girl Scouts and my church boards. I tried gardening; my back didn't like that and talked back. I tried yoga and...

  • Iditawalk becoming an annual fitness adventure in Chugiak

    Dianne Barske, For Senior Voice|Feb 1, 2014

    "I see a lot of seniors who have done something right. Many are fit and active into their 80s and 90s." Betty Burke shares this positive assessment when reflecting on her position as Health Outreach Nurse at the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center. "My job is to promote optimal wellness in the senior population here," she says, "to promote fitness in general." Six years ago, Burke hooked onto the idea of launching a program related to the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, focusing on February fitness for...

  • Tools for creating and for living

    Dianne Barske, For Senior Voice|Nov 1, 2013

    "Our objective is helping people to live as independently as they would like. Confidence is our goal." Lowell Zercher, Manual Skills Instructor for the Alaska Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, chooses these words to explain the mission of the center. "We want our clients to be involved in life, to meet their life and work goals and contribute their talents to others, to the community." Lowell has worked at the center in Anchorage for 14 years. He is often found in the shop at the...

  • OLLI: Unique opportunities for lifelong learners

    Dianne Barske, For Senior Voice|Aug 1, 2013

    Who knew there is so much going on around us – in the air, under foot, even under the ground or under the sea? OLÉ! seeks to explore, to help adult learners keep on discovering and learning about all that is going on around them. OLÉ! stands for “Opportunities for Lifelong Education.” Providing those opportunities is an expansive, wide-ranging goal, but I’ve found that OLE! does a super job of providing adventures for grabbing on to new knowledge. Take for example the weekend of July 19 - 21....

  • Volunteers provide rides, smiles to disabled guests at Alaska Zoo

    Dianne Barske, For Senior Voice|Jun 1, 2013

    It was a caravan of carts, full of givers and receivers, and they were all having fun. The givers were a group of senior volunteers, members of AARP Sourdough Chapter 533. The receivers were people with disabilities. They were all taking part in Access Day, May 15, at the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage. The afternoon may have been breezy, cloudy and cool, but there were warm smiles all around. Volunteers were driving a fleet of a dozen golf carts provided by the Anchorage Golf Course, just down...

  • Strength in diversity

    Dianne Barske, For Senior Voice|Apr 1, 2013

    “Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.” – Kenyan proverb Cal Williams sat with a gathering of eight other people late on the afternoon of Thursday, March 14. He was a happy man. It was the day after the new pope had been named. “I believe Pope Francis will work with the needy, that coming from Argentina he understands village life, diversity in our world. He’ll emphasize harmony,” Williams said. His smile grew ever larger as he spoke to the group. Williams is a member of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Anchorage. “I think we have one of the...

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