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A Special Section Highlighting Senior Lifestyles This monthʼs focus: Celebrating Life

Performing art in Burnsville’s PAC BY EMILY HEDGES – CONTRIBUTING WRITER When the Burnsville Performing Arts Center (BPAC) opened its doors in January of 2009, becoming the Heart of the City’s crown jewel, it provided many seniors the perfect opportunity to both help the community and surround themselves with music. One of the facility’s first volunteers was Judy Tschumper, a retired City of Burnsville employee who helped to create the Heart of the City on Nicollet Avenue. “I love Burnsville. I was excited when the PAC was built. I love that place. I love to volunteer there and I love to go as an attendee. It’s such a wonderful asset south of the river,” said Tschumper. She arrives before the performance, puts on her black and gold usher vest, picks up a flashlight and ticket scanner, and takes her place by one of the concert hall entrances. “I help people get to the proper door. I scan their tickets as they go in and direct them to their seats,” said Tschumper. “We are greeters to make them feel comfortable.” The best part to Tschumper is watching people’s faces when they come to the BPAC for the first time and see the allglass lobby, with its sweeping view of Nicollet Commons Park, the Minnesota River Valley, and the Minneapolis skyline. “They come from all walks of life and from all over the state. Some have never been here before. They are in awe of what the theater looks like,” she said. When Tschumper is not volunteering, she loves to come to the BPAC as a guest. “I’ve seen a whole variety of different things there,” she said. “I’m a season ticket holder for the Dakota Valley

Judy Tschumper and Fred Steaderman stand in front of the Burnsville Performing Arts Center where they both volunteer as ushers. Symphony Series. Just a week ago, I saw the Minnesota Youth Symphonies perform.” Tschumper has always loved music. She sang in high school and was part of the concert and pep bands. She still enjoys singing with her church and the Dakota Valley Chorus. “I sang, but nothing that would go to Broadway,” she said. Fellow BPAC volunteer Fred Steaderman began donating his time

almost as soon as he moved into the neighborhood. After retiring 10 years ago, he moved from his home in South Minneapolis to Boca Raton, Forida. He missed being close to family and decided to move to Burnsville to be near his son. “I didn’t know much about what was happening in Burnsville. When I came back looking for an apartment, I discovered the Heart of the City. This is the most urban area I’ve ever lived in. I can

walk to restaurants, the barbershop, the theater. There’s always something going on,” he said. Like Tschumper, Steaderman’s love of music began early in life. “I performed in grade school and high school, and on and off since then,” he said. As an adult, he began doing more backstage directing and managing, roles he enjoyed more than being on stage. During his time in Boca Raton, he worked as house manager for a theater. With the BPAC within walking distance from his new apartment, the opportunity seemed custom made. He works as an usher and on the event staff during dance competition season. “You are really able to make your own choices about when and where you work, opposed to having to show up everyday and do what others want you to do,” said Steaderman. “That flexibility is really nice. I am able to select shows I want to work. If I don’t want to work, I don’t sign up.” “The staff at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center is so grateful to our usher volunteers. They truly strengthen our mission and encompass the passion of the community for the arts,” said Kandice Nelson, marketing director for BPAC. The Burnsville Performing Arts Center is located at 12600 Nicollet Ave in the Heart of the City. The center has two theatres, a 1014 seat Proscenium Stage and an intimate 150 seat Black Box. Presentations at the Burnsville PAC include cultural events, dramas, comedies, dance, and musical acts from local arts organizations and national touring artists. Join the mailing list at for event notifications and special VIP offers. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer may e-mail or call 952-895-4685.

2 Mature Lifestyles – Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012

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Awaken Your AgePotential Area men featured in top-selling book BY EMILY HEDGES – CONTRIBUTING WRITER Twin Cities author and visionary gerontologist Lori Campbell intends her Amazon No. 1 best-selling book, Awaken Your AgePotential: Exploring Chosen Paths of Thrivers (Beaver’s Pond Press, October 2012), to start a philosophical revolution. Her mission is to create a new vision of aging, one where people expect to live healthy, purposeful lives from beginning to end—and act on that belief. “I envision thriving becoming the new norm in aging. I believe the AgePotential movement will be a catalyst for that change,” said Campbell. Awaken Your AgePotential challenges the notion that a person’s later years must involve the “dreaded Ds,” which are disease, decline, depression, denial, dependence, disability and despair. Through the compelling stories of ten “thrivers” ages fifty years and older, Campbell shows the AgePotential philosophy in action: ordinary people creating extraordinary aging experiences. “Getting to know the thrivers in this book have forever changed the way I think and live,” said Campbell. “It piqued my curiosity to know more.” Campbell profiles Sal Valdovinos, 87, of Richfield in her chapter on selfefficacy, which is a person’s belief in their ability to succeed in a particular situation. Valdovinos emigrated to the United States from Mexico at five years old. Although he enjoyed learning, he struggled in school. Teachers encouraged him to pursue trade school, which he did instead of graduating high school. At eighteen, he entered the Army and fought in World War II. Upon return, he used the GI Bill to go to college, but failed his first year. Instead of giving up, he went to night school to learn basic grammar and writing skills, all while working full time as a welder. He ended up graduating with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, receiving a scholarship for graduate school. He went on to earn a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Indiana. Now Valdovinos has his own practice, Life Management Institute, teaching peo-

Bridging founder Fran Heintzman. ple how to create, manage and live their best lives. “As long as you know you can choose your thoughts, you can create anything,” said Valdovinos. “No matter what happens, you can use your imagination to put a spin on it. Your gifts from God, creativity and experience, will serve you.” In her chapter on gratitude, Campbell interviews Bloomington resident Fran Heitzman, the 87-year-old founder of Bridging, the largest furniture bank in North America. Since 1987, Bridging has served more than 60,000 households, and it all began with one generous act Heitzman witnessed at seven years old. It was Christmas Eve during the Great Depression. A knock at the back door revealed “Grandma” Bradbury, a Hennepin County worker, holding a Christmas tree in one hand and a sack of oranges in the other. He says in the

book, “That Christmas tree and bag of oranges laid the groundwork for the project I launched when I was 61 years old.” “Aging is a very unique, individualistic experience, but there are common threads. Fran and Sal both exhibit those four qualities I write about in my book,” said Campbell. “They take responsibility for their health and aging journey; they don’t buy into the ageist thinking; they demonstrate a mindful, proactive approach to their health and aging journey; and they create and live a passion-centered life.” Heitzman believes the key to thriving is to focus on staying busy and helping others. “My doctor recently told me that the reason I’m still here is that I’m active. My body is not shutting down. I have a purpose to get up in the morning. We live a longer and happier life if we help one another. The sat-

isfaction you get from helping someone else is monumental,” said Heitzman. “Give old clothes to someone. Just do something. If you take one can of food to the food shelf, you’ve done something.” Valdovinos encourages people to be the creative force in their own life. “Life is neutral. It’s what you make of it,” said Valdovinos. “Don’t go to the grave wondering what you could have done. Leave a legacy and a contribution.” Awaken Your AgePotential is available through and and can be ordered through bookstores. You may also order it at to receive special offers and gifts. For more information on Bridging, a nonprofit organization serving the greater Twin Cities, or to get involved, visit or call (952) 888-1105.

4 Mature Lifestyles – Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012

Golden Valley woman traverses the globe, loved every place she went From China to Chicago to the Congo, Barb Johnson, as a missionary, has traveled extensively BY EMILY HEDGES CONTRIBUTING WRITER Barb Johnson has loved every place she has ever lived. From Chicago to Congo to China, the missionary nurse and teacher felt at home among friends. But of all the places she’s called home, Covenant Village of Golden Valley is close to the top. Johnson wanted to be a missionary from the time she was young. After nurse training in California, she lived in Cameroon and then Congo, where she spent 25 years as a nurse. She came back to the United States in 1987 and served as the Africa director in World Mission Department of the

Evangelical Covenant Church for 14 years in Chicago. In that position, she traveled to Africa and other countries throughout the world. She retired from the position in 2001 and decided to put her French language skills learned in Congo to work in West Africa where she stayed for a year as a bi-lingual secretary in the mission office. Once again, she returned home to Chicago, but still had one more international adventure left in her. “China was the cherry on top of the frosting on top of the cake as far as I was concerned,” said Johnson. Johnson taught classes in a

small English-immersion school in China for four years, a time in her life she remembers fondly. “It was because of the people. They loved us, especially the young people. I loved the food, culture, everything,” she recalled. “We had meals together, parties, games. We loved them.” She believes it was working with the young people in China that helped to keep her young. But when it was time to return to Chicago, she began to think about when and where her next move should be. She was trying to decide between a retirement community in Southern California and the Twin Cities, near her brother and his family. “One day someone said to me, ‘People are more important than weather,’” she recalled. “That helped me decide where. Next was to decide when. I had said ‘in five years.’ Then it was ‘in two years.’” Johnson said they she prayed that God would show her when it was time to go. “I didn’t want to go early. I was enjoying my house, but I didn’t want to wait too long. I didn’t want other people making the decision for me. I wanted to be able to pack my own things,” she said. She filled out a questionnaire from Covenant Village of Golden Valley. After returning it, she received a call from the staff. “We had a good conversation. When I hung up the phone I knew it was time to go.” She took it as a sign she had

made the right decision when her home in Chicago sold in only a week to a missionary family. “I am blessed to be here. It was the right decision. I have a number of friends my age and I tell them they need to think about this. I have never talked to anyone that has ever said, ‘We moved too soon,’” said Johnson. “Seniors choose to move to Covenant Village of Golden Valley residential living because of the safety and security they feel here. They make the decision early, while they are able to, so their children don’t have to make the decision for them during a health crisis,” said Craig McDaniels, director of sales and marketing for Covenant Village. “The fellowship between the residents and staff is rare. Covenant Village is open to all denominations of faith and is a community where everyone feels welcome.” Johnson volunteers in the library at Covenant Village, which is connected to the Hennepin County Library System. She attends First Covenant Church in Minneapolis, a multi-ethnic urban church that she loves. Her advice to other seniors: “Keep active and involved in things. Don’t sit around your house. Get out and meet people. Keep fit,” she said. Covenant Village of Golden Valley is located at 5800 St. Croix Avenue in Golden Valley. For more information, go to or call 763-546-6125.

Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012– Mature Lifestyles 5


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You know that noise your heart makes when you work out? IT’S

Is Minnesota the Land of 10,000 Choruses? Options exist for those interested in making music



Think of each beat as your heart’s way of cheering you on for staying physically active. Want a standing ovation? Try keeping your diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat too. For more ways to lower

David Halligan, choir director of the Plymouth Rockers, leads singing during a day of training and appreciation for volunteer choirs hosted by Senior Community Services. The event took place on Oct. 16, 2012 at the Plymouth Creek Center. Photo provided by Senior Community Services.

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Minnesota could be called the Land of 10,000 Choruses. David Halligan, choir director for the Plymouth Senior Center’s senior choir, believes this is a more accurate slogan for the most robust music community he’s ever encountered. “The huge number of singing groups is amazing. Music in the state of Minnesota is better than any state I’ve lived in,” he said. “It’s keen, well- or call 1-800-AHA-USA1.

This space provided as a public service. © 1999, American Heart Association

done, and a wonderful place to live if you’re looking for fine arts and performing with a group.” Opportunities abound for local seniors who love to sing, thanks to senior center volunteer choirs like Halligan’s Plymouth Rockers, and the partnership of local organizations like Senior Community Services (SCS). SCS works with six senior centers with volunteer choirs: Gillespie Center in Mound; Minnetonka Senior Center; Plymouth Creek Center; Monticello

Senior Center; Delano Senior Center and Crow River Senior Center in St. Michael. Steve Pieh, senior services and activities manager of the Minnetonka Senior Center, believes that it is the job of local senior centers to present a wide range of offerings to its members. “Some enjoy exercise or history. Others enjoy artistic things like creating music,” said Peih. “The opportuniCHOIRS: TO NEXT PAGE

Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012– Mature Lifestyles 7

Choirs FROM PREVIOUS PAGE ty to make music and perform in the community is a wonderful thing. It brings joy to the participants and those they sing to.” The Minnetonka Senior Chorale, in its 32nd season and part of the Music Association of Minnetonka (MAM), practices in the Minnetonka Senior Center on Wednesday mornings from 10:30 to noon, September through May. The group is non-auditioned, which means there are no tryouts. Anyone 55 or older is invited to participate. Volunteer choirs like the Minnetonka Senior Chorale and Plymouth Rockers sing in the community, primarily to other seniors in nursing homes, veteran’s homes, and retirement communities. “The Rockers perform regularly for assisted living facilities which houses folks with limited mobility and do not get out very often. We bring the music to them,” said Halligan. “We set the

‘Most are retired folks over 65 who want to reconnect with what they did in high school and college. ... They got busy with families and careers, and gave up music. Now they’re coming back to it.’ -DAVID HALLIGAN, CHOIR DIRECTOR FOR THE PLYMOUTH SENIOR CENTER’S SENIOR CHOIR mood of the program to the audience. We include them on the singing parts, and they light up. They enjoying singing and clapping. No matter what the situation, we’ll get a twinkle, a movement from them.” Halligan sees daily what the choir means to those who sing. “Most are retired folks over 65 who want to reconnect with what they did in high school and college,” he said. “They got busy with families and careers, and gave up music. Now they’re coming back to it.” Halligan says there’s room for everyone, even the ones who are musi-

cally challenged. “I kind of identify those people and work harder with them one on one. I want everyone to feel like a contributing part of the group.” The Plymouth Rockers rehearse every Monday from 9 – 11:30 at the Plymouth Creek Community Center, August through June. There are no auditions necessary. A wide variety of music is performed from popular songs to spiritual songs. “These volunteer choirs bring so much joy to the people they sing to and they receive many joys and rewards in return. They are a wonderful gift to the

community,” said Sue Gallus, program director for SCS. “There’s a country song out by Eric Church and one of the lines is, ‘funny how a melody sounds like a memory.’ I think this says it all.” On October 16, 2012 SCS worked with several senior centers to host approximately 130 people from several area senior programs. They spent the day singing, attending workshops on vocal subjects. “Sue came to us and said they’d like to do something for the singing groups. We worked to put a workshop together that talked about managing the group, getting the audience involved, improving your singing, getting energy. I think they (the singers) enjoyed the focus on the music side of community services,” said Halligan. For more information about Senior Community Services, go to or call (952) 541-1019. For more information and a list of upcoming performances for MAM, go to or call 952-401-5954; for the Plymouth Rockers, go to or call 952-688-7244

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