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December 2018

Swindler Down

Local man who scammed the elderly caught by the FBI

Why Retire?

The benefits of returning to the workforce

Volunteer Groups Seniors helping older adults Valleywide

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Steven Van Zandt rocks for teachers Page 20

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12 Being There

Volunteer groups of older adults helping older seniors are on the rise


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Editor’s Letter Leibo At Large

8 Ask Gabby Gayle 10 News Briefs


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Features The Retirement Phase

Why many seniors increasingly choose to return to work


20 20

Tunes for Teachers

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Close to Success


Calendar of Events


Beaches and Blessings

A Yucatán land safari with Victory Cruise Lines

36 Changing the Foodscape

We are currently looking for


Steven Van Zandt stands strong with educators



Swindler Down

Man who preyed on elderly met his match in an Ahwatukee lawyer

76th Street performs at Phoenix Festival of the Arts, plans EP

Tinseltown Talks

Christmas with Margaret O’Brien




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Calendar Editor


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Fred Cicetti, Lin Sue Cooney, Jan D’Atri, Christina Fuoco-Karasinski, Sherry Jackson, Gloria Knott, Gayle Lagman-Creswick, David Leibowitz, Jimmy Magahern, Paul Maryniak, Tom McDonald, Bob Roth, Irene Stillwell, Nick Thomas

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Giving the Gift of Time December is a full month. For some, it’s a month full of festivities and holiday celebrations. For others, especially seniors who are in assisted living facilities and don’t see their families, it’s a month full of mixed emotions and potentially painful memories. That’s why volunteer groups like Smile On Seniors and the assistance programs offered by companies like Benevilla are so important. The people who lend their time to spend it with older folks who need socialization, especially during this season, are truly giving a gift that can’t be purchased. We meet and celebrate some of the senior volunteers who make this month a little merrier for their elders in our feature Being There (page 12). While some retirees spend their time volunteering, others are finding their way back into the workforce. Our feature The Retirement Phase takes a look at people who are going to back to work after retiring, not out of necessity, but out of boredom or the desire to continue growing and trying new things. Learn their stories and maybe even think about your own next phase starting on page 14. Volunteering and work are important,

but leisure time and entertainment are also of value, especially during the holiday season. There’s so much happening around the Valley right now, as evidenced by our monthly calendar, which starts on page 20. In addition to all the seasonal shows, we’ve got rock concerts coming from Steven Van Zandt, Bruce Springsteen’s longtime guitarist (Tunes for Teachers, page 20), and local pop group 76th Street (Close to Success, page 23). And in the spirit of the season, this month’s Tinseltown Talks (page 24) catches up with Margaret O’Brien, of Meet Me in St. Louis and Little Women (1949) fame. O’Brien, now 81, stars this holiday season in This Is Our Christmas, a sequel to the popular 2015 TV movie Beverly Hills Christmas. Whatever you’re doing for the holidays, I hope your heart is whole and light, and that your days are merry and bright. May the New Year bring new friends and maybe even a new start in volunteering or a second career. Cheers!

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Opinion Leibo At Large

Gun-toting criminals targeting police BY DAVID LEIBOWITZ Having spent much of the past 25 years working alongside of and for cops and reporters, there’s a term I’ve come to loathe as loaded and devoid of meaning. Police-involved shooting. That’s the phrase I can’t stand. News stories have been full of the term, on the heels of a bloody Monday in October in the Valley. The gunfire commenced in Tempe at 3 p.m. Monday, October 29, as two female officers served an order of protection on a nutcase who earlier had assaulted his girlfriend. Said beau opened fire, striking one cop in the arm and the other in the arm, shoulder and bulletproof vest. One officer returned fire, hitting the shooter. He was later discovered dead in the home. One officer required surgery. Fortunately, both women will recover fully. An hour later, the action shifted to downtown Mesa, where cops were summoned to investigate a suspicious man, possibly armed, driving a white pickup. The man drove off; police followed by cruiser and helicopter. As the suspect neared downtown, Phoenix police and Department of Public Safety troopers joined the pursuit. The suspect’s car was rammed and stopped. That was when 27-year-old Arnaldo Caraveo, a convicted burglar and thug, opened fire on law enforcement with a rifle in the middle of Interstate 17. Flying glass lacerated two troopers. They will be okay. Caraveo will not; he was shot dead. Depending on which local news organization you believe, the incidents on October 29 brought the total number of “police-involved shootings” in Maricopa County to 70 or 71 for the year. As every news outlet is quick to trumpet, this pace appears to be “record-setting” – there were only 43 such shootings last year – though such “records” appear to have been kept only since 2013, and only by reporters who basically are making up these stats as they go along. The same inventiveness is shared by socalled “civil rights groups,” many of which have

predictably blamed police for this bloodshed. In Phoenix in late August, protesters from Puente Human Rights Movement descended on City Council to decry that city’s approximately 40 police-involved shootings. “These people are not just numbers: They’re our family. They’re our neighbors. They are the people that we love,” said Maria Castro, a Puente demonstrator. “City Council, the blood is on your hands. This is your responsibility. You are paying these people to murder the citizens of this city.” Personally? I believe that the Valley does indeed have an epidemic afoot – of “suspected criminal-involved shootings.” Time and time again this year, armed bad actors have essentially committed suicide by cop, choosing to put police officers in lifethreatening situations, dangerous moments that, by law, make the suspects vulnerable to lethal force. Does this apparent rise in aggression excuse conduct by police officers who step outside the law and shoot too soon or without provocation? Of course not. On the comparatively rare occasion police officers go rogue, they should be fired and prosecuted, if subsequent investigation and the facts determine they have acted illegally. There should be no special treatment, not for cops and not for the Arnaldo Caraveos of the world. Which is precisely why I object to the term “police-involved shooting.” Is it semantically accurate? I suppose so, in the same way that calling a marriage between a man and a woman a “bride-involved relationship” is accurate. It takes a minimum of two to tango when it comes to shootings like those we witnessed on that bloody Monday. Calling such incidents “police-involved shootings” makes it sound like innocent citizens these days serve as ducks in a shooting gallery. In 2018, I believe it’s cops who have become fodder, not the other way around. David Leibowitz has called the Valley home since 1995. Contact




You’re healthy and probably not thinking about end of life decisions at this point in your life.

Ask Gabby Gayle

Beware of romantic dating site scammers BY GAYLE LAGMAN-CRESWICK


Dear Gabby Gayle:

I have been conversing with a man on a dating site. He says he is living in my city; however, after three months of chatting, he is dragging his feet when I suggest we meet for coffee. He says he is going out of town on business, he has to settle a family matter, or some other excuse. According to our profiles, we should be a good match. Any suggestions?

Signed, Stuck


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Dear Gabby Gayle:

My ex-husband and I have been divorced for about two years, and now our son is getting married. Both my ex and I have significant others. My son was humiliated by something my boyfriend said to him; therefore, he is not invited to the wedding. I have mixed feelings about it. I do not want to miss my son’s wedding, but I feel my guy should be invited. What do you think?

Signed, Torn


7900 E. Main Street Mesa, AZ 85207 • 480-832-2850

Dear Stuck:

Anyone on a dating site can claim they live in your city and they may live in Timbuktu. My guess is that he is a romantic scammer. Delete him and report him to the dating site. My rule of thumb is: If I have chatted with a guy several times, I am ready to have coffee in a very public place. If he is not ready, I delete him. Why waste my time chatting when we could meet and see if there is any reason to continue? There is so much more you can tell about a person by seeing them face to face and visiting. You can tell if there is chemistry, if they have a sense of humor, if they are truthful, and if they have a nice smile and personality! Good luck!

Dear Torn:

I agree with you. I suggest you have a heart-to-heart talk with your son and his bride and explain to them your feelings. Explain to them that a wedding is a time to bring people together, not to cause hard feelings. Try to get them to put themselves in your place. Hopefully your guy knows to keep his mouth shut now? If they absolutely refuse to invite him, you will have to

decide which way to go... good luck.



Dear Gabby Gayle:

After discovering that my dad has a chest of drawers full of pajamas, ties and shirts that were given to him as a gifts, which he has never even taken out of their packages, I decided that I would give him something more meaningful last year. I gave him 12 coupons for “pie of the month.” He chose any pie he wanted, and I baked it for him. I brought it over and we shared the first cut together and had a nice chat. Since he is running out of coupons, he asked me to give him the same gift again this year. He said it was the best gift he ever received. I thought maybe your readers would appreciate this idea.

Thanks, Daughter


Dear Daughter:

A great idea! It is also a reminder that the gift of our time is often the best gift we can give our parents. A few years ago, a man wrote that he gave his mother a night out with him once a month. He related that he felt he got more out of it than his mother did, but that she seemed delighted with it. Thank you for sharing!



Dear Gabby Gayle:

I have been dating a man for about six months. We are not romantically involved but have become good friends. I would like to get him something for Christmas, but I don’t want him to think he has to give me something and I don’t want him to think I am trying to advance our relationship. What do you suggest?

Signed, Wondering


Dear Wondering:

By now you should know his hobbies, etc. I suggest a book related to something he likes or a small gift related to one of his hobbies. A gift should be given because we like the person and want to do something nice for them. I believe that is what you are doing!


If you have questions for Gabby Gayle, please send them to “Ask Gabby Gayle” at





FSL’s Brenda Holt honored with alumnae award

Foundation for Senior Living board member Brenda L. Holt received the Black Board of Directors Project – Dr. Charles R. Campbell Outstanding Alumnae Award recently. An AARP Arizona senior program specialist, Holt earned the award for her exemplary contributions to the community and society. The Avondale resident’s civic activities include serving on the board of directors for FSL, Arizona Commission on African-American Affairs and the Governor’s Council on Aging (GACA); and the cancer caregivers committee for the AZ Myeloma Network. She was recently invited to serve on the Attorney General’s African-American Advisory Council. “The staff at FSL is proud of Brenda Holt and we congratulate her for receiving the Dr. Charles R. Campbell Outstanding Alumnae Award from the Black Board of

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Brenda Holt earned a Master of Organizational Management Degree from the University of Phoenix. (Photo courtesy Foundation for Senior Living)

Directors Project,” said Tom Egan, CEO and president of FSL. “Brenda joined our board in 2016 and was instrumental in launching the FSL R&R retreat, which was an event geared toward family caregivers. This event provided resources and relaxation to hundreds of family caregivers. She has also been an active member of our fundraising committee and brings her wealth of knowledge about the needs of older Americans.” She earned her Master of Organizational Management Degree from the University of Phoenix. Most recently, the Michigan native was awarded the 2017 Arizona Celebration of Women “Achieving My Purposes” award. Foundation for Senior Living is a nonprofit with the mission of providing homeand community-based services and developing energy-efficient, affordable housing to promote health, independence and dignity for all.

Tempe nonprofit increasing home security

A Tempe nonprofit is providing free home repairs, safety modifications and energy-efficient improvements to low-income seniors, families, veterans and disabled individuals. Rebuilding Together Valley of the Sun (RTVOS) is creating safer living environ-

ments for those who need it most. Founded in 1991 as an independent affiliate of the national organization Christmas in April, the organization painted homes for low-income seniors. Over time, the mission evolved to encompass a much broader scope of work and the name was changed to Rebuilding Together. In February, the nonprofit will celebrate 28 years of repairing homes, revitalizing communities and rebuilding lives. It offers three programs. The Safe and Healthy Home Program includes senior fall prevention services and the Arizona Ramp Project (ARP), serving low-income homeowners. ARP is designed to increase mobility and independence while reducing falls for seniors, veterans and disabled individuals. The Elevando Community Revitalization Program targets distressed neighborhoods and serves low-income homeowners as well as community facilities in need of critical health and safety repairs. Chores for Charity, a low-cost handyman service program, addresses basic home repairs for a fee. For more information, visit To volunteer, call 480-774-0237.

Humana donates knitted, crocheted and sewn items to Banner

More than 500 knitted, crocheted and sewn items, including caps, breast cancer pillows, blankets and stuffed animals – all made by hand for cancer patients – were donated by Humana to Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center. The items were made by the Humana Charity Crafters, a group of mostly senior women who meet weekly to knit, crochet and sew items for charity. Several of the ladies were on hand to donate the items to Angie Wiebler, volunteer program supervisor with Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center. The caps and blankets will be distributed to cancer patients, who often express feeling cold from chemo treatment. The pillows are shaped like hearts so patients who have had a mastectomy can place them in their armpit to relieve pain and discomfort.

The crafting group meets from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Mondays at Humana, 5943 E. McKellips Road, Suite 106, Mesa. The group is open to anyone and all crafting materials are provided by Humana. For more information on the group and the Humana community location, residents can call 480-325-4707.

‘Be a Santa to a Senior’ and brighten seniors’ holiday season

Each year, seniors have fewer family members and friends to provide company and care to them, which often can lead to social isolation. The holidays can be especially hard for those who are living independently and may feel lonely. Home Instead Senior Care is inviting the community to provide gifts and holiday cheer to seniors who may be isolated from friends or family this holiday season through its Be a Santa to a Senior program. Home Instead Senior Care office has partnered with Recycled Home, Fountains United Methodist Church, Fountain Hills Presbyterian Church and Fountain Hills Middle School to help with gift collection and distribution. Senior wreaths can be found at these Fountain Hills locations through December 15: Home Instead Senior Care, 17100 E. Shea Boulevard, Suite 530 Recycled Home, 16716 E. Palisades Boulevard Fountains United Methodist Church, 15300 N. Fountain Hills Boulevard Fountain Hills Presbyterian Church, 13001 N. Fountain Hills Boulevard Fountain Hills Middle School, 15414 N. McDowell Mountain Road Each wreath is decorated with ornaments featuring seniors’ first names and their desired gifts. Holiday shoppers can choose an ornament, buy the requested gift and return it to the Home Instead Office or Fountain Hills Middle School with the ornament attached. For more information about the program, visit or call 480-500-6550.







Volunteer groups helping older adults assist their even older seniors are on the rise, offering benefits across the generations. BY JIMMY MAGAHERN Benevilla volunteers provide help with errands, among other things. (Photos by Schnebly Hill Media)

Every Monday, when Marcia Benjamin pays a visit to the assisted living center where her older friend, who’s also named Marcia, receives care, her arrival draws smiles and some good-natured ribbing from the other residents. “When I walk in, most of the other residents say, ‘Marcia’s friend Marcia is here!’” Benjamin says, noting the amusement those in the center draw simply from the duplicate names – which sometimes turns into spirited reprisals of Jan Brady’s sibling rivalry wailing from The Brady Bunch. But behind all the “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” kvetching, Benjamin occasionally catches a whiff of genuine jealousy. “They all turn to look my way, and I don’t see any of them having a visitor, which just kills me,” Benjamin says, suddenly doleful. “I think to myself, ‘Does anybody ever come to visit these other residents? Does it happen maybe on Tuesday? Does somebody show up over the weekends?’ So as I leave, I say hello to everybody. ‘How are you doing?’ Just so that they know that they’re not forgotten, even though nobody’s there for them.” Benjamin, 65, is a volunteer with Smile on Seniors of Arizona, a project run by the Chabad Lubavitch synagogue in Phoenix that enlists volunteers to make weekly visits to seniors throughout the city, often at centers such as this one. “That’s one of the many activities that they offer for us as volunteers – to visit a senior once a week, whether it be in their home or in a facility,” says Benjamin, a former nurse from New Jersey now comfortably retired in Scottsdale with her husband, Matthew. She began visiting the other Marcia, who’s now 94 and suffering from failing vision, a little over a year ago and




recently began visiting another 92-year-old “Her daughter lived 20 minutes away. Never woman named Shirley at a separate senior came.” One of the hardest things about being a care home on Thursdays. “I usually spend an hour with Marcia and volunteer visitor, Benjamin reveals, is resistabout a half hour or so with Shirley,” she ing the urge to mom-judge the disregardsays. “And I feel like I get much more out ing children she sometimes fills in for. “I wanted of the visits to call the than they daughter do, to be and tell her honest. For off. To just me, it’s just say, ‘You feeling the when for them, time is the very have no idea appreciation thing that’s running out. what you’re from these – Smile On Seniors volunteers missing out beautiful Marcia Benjamin on. Your women who mom is the are always so happy that somebody came by to spend most amazing individual. How could you not be here when you live only 20 minutes some time with them.” Benjamin says spending time with the away?’” Benjamin admits she was drawn to what older women additionally benefits their adult daughters, with whom she’s also be- she calls “sitting” with seniors after her dad passed away. “I lost my dad three years ago come good friends. “Marcia’s daughter Lynn is there every and I feel like I’m helping my dad when I day – she picks up the clothing that needs do this,” she says. She’s seen mental and to go in the laundry, picks out her outfits physical decline firsthand and understands and so on. And Shirley’s daughter is a doll, why family members have trouble visiting a too, but right now she’s recovering from loved one in their last stages. But she insists, having foot surgery and is not getting “If you don’t have the time to give them around too well herself. So when I come some little spark, something that you can by, that allows both of them to have a little give to them that makes them remember who you are, then you’ve done nothing. more free time, too.” “You can’t tell me you don’t have time,” She hasn’t always liked the offspring of the elderly people she’s been “senior bud- she adds, “when for them, time is the very died” with. Back when she first began vol- thing that’s running out.” unteering, for the Jewish Federation in New Jersey, Benjamin was paired with an older Healthy helping woman named Estelle. In a 2015 study by Indiana University “Funny as all get-out. She would tell me economics professor Sumedha Gupta, volwho everyone in the nursing home was unteering – what Gupta called “pro-social having an affair with. She was hysterical!” engagement” – was found to have measurBenjamin says, laughing in recollection. able beneficial effects on the volunteer’s

“You can’t tell me you don’t have time,

cognitive health. Gupta studied a group of more than 64,000 subjects aged 60 and older for a period of 12 years, and she observed that those who did volunteer work for just two hours a week scored around 6 percent higher in cognitive testing than did nonvolunteers. Another study by the federal Corporation for National and Community Service found that volunteering can also ward off depression, which is also a factor in dementia. In 70 percent of those studied, depression symptoms declined after one year of volunteering. Additionally, a 2014 report in the journal of the American Psychological Association presented evidence that volunteering is associated with better overall health, fewer functional limitations and a longer lifespan, in addition to boosts in social, physical and cognitive activity. In short, the “deliberate social behavior” involved in volunteering is good for older folks in a lot of ways. Fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities in Arizona for older adults to help their even older seniors. “We currently have about 500 active volunteers,” says Courtney Allen, VP of programs for Benevilla, a Surprise, Arizonabased organization that has been providing services to older adults and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities since 1981. Together, those volunteers put in about 42,000 hours per year as “neighbors helping neighbors” with everything from grocery shopping, assisted transportation and light handyman services to friendly visits and home-delivered meals. “A lot of times our volunteers may start out doing grocery shopping or transportation for older adults and then they kind of turn into making friendly visits with them,”

Allen says. “They really build strong relationships and friendships with those individuals.” Allen says Benevilla doesn’t necessarily dictate what the volunteers should do. “We really try to find what the strengths of each volunteer are and then kind of find their spot from there,” she says. If one-on-one visits are not your thing, you can help in the community garden, provide office support, work as an entertainer or prepare meals in Birt’s Bistro, the restaurant on Benevilla’s main campus. “If somebody has a special talent – like let’s say they’re really into scrapbooking – we can find a good opportunity for them to be in one of our life programs, where they can lead an activity that’s based around that skill.” Volunteers do have to go through a full day orientation, “just like all new staff members,” and for some assignments they have to get fingerprint clearance and pass some basic health tests. But for the most part, becoming a volunteer is as simple as filling out an online registration form. “As long as they have the passion to come in and give back to the community, we want to help make that passion ignite and really help them find the right spot,” Allen says. “It helps not only those served, but also provides a lot of benefits for the volunteers themselves.”

Better angels

“To be a volunteer, just being alive and wanting to give are usually all the qualifications you need,” says Levi Levertov, co-director of Smile on Seniors of Arizona. “That and not having a felony record.”

Volunteers build strong friendships with those they help.

He says it with a slight laugh, but that last qualification particularly resonates with Levertov and his wife, Chani, who oversee the program in addition to running the Chabad Lubavitch synagogue on Lincoln Drive just east of the SR-51 freeway. The 34-year-old rabbi says Smile on Seniors, which the couple started in 2009, has always done background checks on its volunteers. But he admits that screening applicants has become a greater concern since October’s mass shooting inside the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, which ended with 11 people dead. Prior to the massacre, the shooter had posted several anti-Semitic remarks on social media, including one made on the day of the attack. “I’m fairly young, and so growing up in Arizona, I never really experienced antiSemitism the way the older people in our

community have,” Levertov says. “Talking to them, many feel the current surge of hatred was inevitable. And so for our large events, we now have armed security provided by off-duty police officers – and that comes by requests from the seniors.” For the most part, however, Levertov has seen a surge in synagogue participation (“It’s important to show that nobody

can break you, in that sense”), as well as volunteerism. “For some people, I think it’s become even more important to show they care about others,” he says. And indeed, researchers are seeing the mean-spirited tenor of the times, coupled with the lack of social connection many of us feel the more we become addicted to technology, has sparked a kind of positive backlash that includes boosts in volunteerism. That’s encouraging to Levertov, who grew up spending a lot of time at his grandparent’s house and learning to respect and serve the community’s elders. “In Judaism, you learn that just because a person becomes older, that’s no reason to see them as less vital – in fact, the older one becomes, the more they should be seen to offer,” he says. With Arizona’s large senior population, that gives people with an interest in volunteering ample opportunities to become the better angels Levertov feels many of us long to be. “I think most people are good people,” the young rabbi maintains. “And when presented with an opportunity to show they care about others, many pick up on that.”

Wall-2-Wall Tap Dance Center


Tap Dance with me!


Benevilla currently has about 500 active volunteers.

Home of the HeartBeat Tap Ensemble

480-317-3000 | 617 S. McClintock Drive, Ste. 3, Tempe DECEMBER 2018




The Retirement Phase

Why many seniors increasingly choose to return to work BY SHERRY JACKSON

Saturday, February 2, 2019

7 PM Call 480-380-0106

SUNLAND VILLAGE EAST 8026 E Lakeview Ave Mesa, AZ 85209 performance includes “This Diamond Ring“ “She’s Just My Style” “Everybody Loves a Clown” “Sealed with a Kiss” “Count Me In”

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Age is just a number, right? As medical Retirement was “boring” services and technology continue to adAfter being diagnosed with prostate canvance, Americans are living longer than cer in 2013, Gilbert resident Richard Gotever before. So why retire at age 60 or 65… tlieb started his countdown to retirement. or even at all? “I wanted to live the best life I could,” he No longer does entering your senior years says. “Even though the tumor was minor, mean endless days sitting around a retire- and the doctor said I could live another 20 ment home watching television and playing years, nothing in life is certain.” bridge. Today’s seniors are active, involved But retirement was short-lived for Gotand definitely not ready to sit idly by. tlieb. “Three weeks after I retired, I got a There are many reasons seniors continue part-time job. I was so bored. I worked 11 to work past the traditional retirement age. or 12 days a month. It was the perfect job – I For some, it’s for the money, but increasing- could still play some golf,” he says. “But the ly, many seniors are working because they job was boring. I didn’t have much to do want to, not and at times I because they would sit and Those who work because have to. Social read a book. interac tion, It just wasn’t they want to can explore a intelle c tual stimulating.” career they’ve always stimulation, Gottlieb, new experiwho is 68, wanted to try, engage in ences and has had other more meaningful work part-time pojust having something sitions since and have more flexibility to do outside “retiring,” but compared with their the house are after being in all reasons seretail for more prime-age counterparts. niors continue than 30 years, to be a force in he missed the today’s workplace. work and interaction with customers. With A recent study shows more than half of his wife still working full-time, he says he retirees would return to work under the “ran out of things to do around the house.” right conditions – and a large number Gottlieb is currently negotiating with a already have, according to the American company to go back to work full-time. “I’ll Working Conditions Survey (AWCS) con- still have two days a week where I can play. ducted by nonprofit research firm Rand I’m trying to find a balance between life Corp. Those who work because they want and work,” he says. to can explore a career they’ve always Gottlieb isn’t alone. The Pew Research wanted to try, engage in more meaningful Center reported in 2016 that nearly 9 milwork and have more flexibility compared lion Americans age 65 or older were emwith their prime-age counterparts. ployed full- or part-time, and that number According to a recent CNN story, Baby has steadily increased each year since 2000. Boomers are reaching retirement age rap- The AWCS also found almost 40 percent of idly, and the generations to follow are thin- workers over age 65 had retired at some ning as the American birth rate sinks ever point and had gone back to work in some lower. In March 2018, the Census Bureau capacity. reported that by 2035, there will be more Americans over age 65 than there are chil- Easing into retirement dren under age 18. Luckily, workers are stayRetirement doesn’t have to be an all-oring healthier and no longer feel that the nothing proposition. More employers totraditional retirement age is an expiration day are considering phasing in retirement date. With manufacturing jobs giving way for key employees. The Center for Aging to less physical service and desk jobs, age is and Work at Boston College says 64 percent less of a barrier to continued employment. of current workers aged 18-64 view

ment as a gradual process and regard opportunities for phased retirement as important or very important. Employers are taking notice and looking to keep crucial job knowledge as older workers retire. According to the 2014 National Study of Employers, 54 percent of organizations allow all or at least some employees to “phase into retirement by working reduced hours over a period of time prior to full retirement,” while 18 percent allow all or most employees to do so. Perceived barriers to a phased retirement include legal and regulatory concerns and rules related to modifying the distribution of pension benefits. Legal considerations aside, phased retirement can benefit companies, not just workers. Older job seekers don’t necessarily care as much about formal benefits, such as dental insurance, life insurance or paid time off as much as their younger counterparts. Setting their own pace, physical demands of the job and having some amount of control ranked higher, according to the AWCS. It’s those kinds of “intangible” benefits that led John Stickling, a recreation foreman at Leisure World in Mesa, to his current position. After his previous company “retired” him when he was 58, Stickling says he wasn’t quite ready to “officially” retire and needed to keep working for medical insurance benefits. So, he and his wife decided to start edging towards retirement. They moved to Arizona (from Illinois), and Stickling started looking for employment but wanted something different than his office-bound previous career. Now at age 67, Stickling says he no longer needs to work for the money or insurance (he’s now eligible for Medicare), but he likes his co-workers and the work he’s doing. A self-described introvert, Stickling says his position as recreation foreman gets him out of the house and allows him to be social. “It’s a good, fulfilling job and I get to interact with people,” he says. “It gets me out of my comfort zone.” Stickling is planning on working for “another three years or so” and then will reassess what he wants to do.

Training and resources

Fortunately, seniors who want to work

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have resources available. One of the goals of Arizona’s State Plan on Aging is to strengthen Arizona’s economy by fostering an integrated and welltrained informal, paraprofessional and professional workforce. The Mature Worker Program by the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) assists those age 55 and older with securing job training and providing job search assistance. The program goal is to allow mature works to obtain necessary skills to re-enter the workforce and become employed in the local market. While in training, participants receive an assessment to determine individual needs for training, supportive services and potential for employment. Training in the program occurs through a community service assignment at a nonprofit or government agency for approximately 20 hours per week. Participants receive the higher of the federal or state minimum wage. Other job-related training consists of developing and/or upgrading existing employment skills, limited educational opportunities, job counseling and job placement assistance. The website offers information and assistance to those 50 years or older. The site helps find volunteer opportunities, educational and training programs and services through a network of community resources. The Arizona Department of Economic Security’s Mature Workers Services also has many resources available at its website, aging-and-disability-services/matureworker-services.

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Swindler Down

Man who preyed on elderly met his match in an Ahwatukee lawyer BY PAUL MARYNIAK When he lived in Avondale and then Ahwatukee, Raheem Oliver knew how to play the angles. He played them so well that he made an estimated $640,000 in three years off the backs of elderly people – including a 96-yearold man known for his work as a World War II Marine cinematographer whom he fleeced out of $98,000 through an elaborate magazine subscription racket. But Oliver made a crucial mistake two years ago that put him in a federal courtroom in Virginia in August before a judge who handed him a 14-year prison sentence. Oliver rented a house from Ahwatukee attorney Mark Pyper. Had it not been for Pyper’s curiosity, Oliver might well have continued what U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger called “his broad and calculated magazine fraud scam.” Even Pyper himself was conned, though not through the magazine scam. Back in 2016, Oliver offered to rent Pyper’s 7,500-square-foot house in Ahwatukee’s Equestrian Estates neighborhood. So, the attorney did a background check and learned Oliver had spent time in prison, serving six years for his conviction on armed robbery and kidnapping stemming from a violent heist of a jewelry store in Gilbert in 2003. He blindfolded the female clerk and bound her in duct tape before making off with what police said at the time was a “considerable” amount of jewelry. When he brought his prison record to Oliver’s attention, Pyper recalled, Oliver “represented that he was a ‘changed man’ with a successful business and that he even coached underprivileged teens in a competitive basketball league.” Acting on religious beliefs that once inspired him to serve a mission in Africa as a young man, Pyper decided to give him a second chance. He realized pretty quickly he had made a mistake. Within a matter of months, Pyper said he “began seeing irregularities involving Oliver and his rental payments.” It was how Oliver paid his rent that finally piqued Pyper’s curiosity – and eventually started the conman’s quick descent into problems with federal authorities that ended in his guilty plea this past summer to federal fraud charges.




Ahwatukee attorney Mark Pyper holds a copy of the check he received from conman and career criminal Raheem Oliver when he was a tenant in a home Pyper owned. The third-party check piqued his curiosity and he called the man who wrote it – ultimately triggering an investigation that unraveled the scheme. (Photo by Kimberly Carrillo)

Raheem Oliver faces 14 years in prison for bilking over 300 elderly people out of more than $600,000. (Photo special to LLAF)

Rather than pay him from his own checking account, Oliver sent Pyper a check that an elderly Kentucky farmer had made out to Oliver. Pyper tracked down the man, who talked about how Oliver had threatened him with legal action over $18,000 for unpaid magazine subscriptions. He told Pyper that Oliver had him send roughly half that amount – which turned out to be the check that Oliver simply forwarded on to his landlord. Pyper called the FBI, which referred him to U.S. Postal inspectors. They began an intensive investigation that culminated in a raid on the Equestrian Estates mansion. Pyper still remembers the conversation just before the raid: “They said, ‘If you give us the key code, we won’t have to rip out your 18-foot wrought iron front door.’” Pyper gave them the code. Investigators

found a ruthless, well-coordinated scam. For at least three years, Oliver led a ring that preyed on vulnerable elderly people by “falsely representing to these individuals via telephone calls and other communications that the victims needed to pay thousands of dollars at a time for purported magazine subscription renewal fees, past-due magazine subscription balances, attorneys’ fees, fines, other legal fees and court costs,” prosecutors charged. He threatened his victims with lawsuits and even arrests and not only pressured them into making payments, but also made illicit charges off the credit card numbers they provided him. One victim received 100 calls in a six-month period from Oliver, who extorted sums that quickly tallied thousands of dollars. Oliver was a classic deadbeat, too. While stiffing Pyper on the rent, Oliver drove a new Mercedes, wore fancy clothes and expensive jewelry and often talked of the exotic trips he took with his wife and four kids. One time, Pyper pressed Oliver about his unpaid rent. He begged Pyper to be patient and said that fellow congregants at his church in Laveen were “passing the plate” to raise money to cover the arrearages. “I told him so you live in a mansion but the peasants who live in Laveen are helping you out,” the

attorney says. Pyper says he is out thousands of dollars in property damage and unpaid rent. And he quickly discovered he was not alone. “He got married at my house and I got a call from a catering company looking for him. It turned out he never paid their bill,” Pyper says. Then there’s the company that had installed a $10,000 security system in the home at Oliver’s request; they never got paid either. Though he had changed his life of crime from one of violence to fraud, Oliver inflicted no small degree of injury on his victims. “By any measure, the defendant’s criminal conduct was quite serious and was motivated by greed,” Terwilliger said in a presentence report. “The defendant deliberately targeted elderly victims, often with diminished mental capacity and physical health, and preyed upon them in order to unjustly enrich himself. He repeatedly and shamelessly lied to his victims, and he employed calculated and sophisticated tactics to mask his true identity and conceal his crimes,” he wrote, adding: “Most importantly, as the victim impact statements make clear, the defendant not only stole thousands of dollars from his individual victims (totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars overall), but his conduct also inflicted serious emotional harms on the elderly victims and their family members.” One of those victims was Norm Hatch, a Marine Corps combat cinematographer during World War II who risked his life to capture some of the most iconic footage of the Battles of Iwo Jima and Tarawa. That footage helped the documentary With the Marines at Tarawa win the 1945 Academy Award for Most Outstanding Documentary Short Film. The story of Hatch’s experiences in World War II was later turned into a book. Somehow, Oliver – whom Hatch had never met – managed to convince the then 93-year-old Alexandria, Virginia resident that he owed $98,000 for unpaid magazine subscriptions. Hatch paid Oliver the money, and died a year ago without ever seeing a penny back. A friend of Hatch, who requested anonymity, thought Oliver’s sentencing was “sort of cosmic justice.” It came exactly one year to the day that Hatch was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

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for rehab can make W here allyouthegodifference. You didn’t choose to need rehab therapy. But you can choose where you receive it. And that choice should include experienced therapists, encouragement from the staff and compassion for your wants, needs and fears. We believe in those things, which is why we have a mission to care for you completely — body, mind and soul. To learn more about Good Samaritan Society – Mesa Good Shepherd, call (480) 981-0098.

by CMS/Medicare The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society (the Society) and Owner comply with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate against any person on the grounds of race, color, national origin, disability, familial status, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, veteran status or other protected statuses except as permitted by applicable law, in admission to, participation in, or receipt of the services and benefits under any of its programs and activities, and in staff and employee assignments to individuals, whether carried out by the Society directly or through a contractor or any other entity with which the Society arranges to carry out its programs and activities. All faiths or beliefs are welcome. © 2018 The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society. All rights reserved. ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-866-477-5343. Díí baa akó nínízin: Díí saad bee yáníłti’go Diné Bizaad, saad bee áká’ánída’áwo’dé̜é̜, t’áá jiik’eh, éí ná hóló̜, koji̜ ’ hódíílnih 1-866-477-5343. 182693





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Holiday Greetings to our friends and neighbors. Each year we look forward to reconnecting with families we served throughout past years. There are many timeless traditions that keep us connected to one another. We hope that you enjoy each celebration and tradition with a renewed appreciation for those around you.

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Entertainment Tunes for Teachers

Calendar of Events Saturday, December 1

Meet the Author with Paula Goldsmith, 1 to 4 p.m., Red Mountain Library, 635 N. Power Road, Mesa, free admission, paulasstories. com. Goldsmith will sign her four books, which will be available for purchase.

Steven Van Zandt stands strong with educators BY CHRISTINA FUOCO-KARASINSKI Steven Van Zandt has a problem with the education system. Hard-working teachers are paid very little and music is being removed from school curriculums. His band, Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul, is standing strong with educators on the Soulfire Teacher Solidarity Tour. Besides supporting teachers, Van Zandt is introducing TeachRock, the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation’s free, multimedia, K-12 interdisciplinary curriculum that meets standards in English language arts, social studies/history and the fine and performing arts. So far, 8,000 teachers have signed up for the curriculum. “We’ve been working on this curriculum for 10 years. We’re just going public with it now,” Van Zandt says. “I didn’t want to go public until we had 100 lessons at least. “ is a music history curriculum we wrote for schools. We’re already reaching out to administrators. We wanted to reach out from the bottom up and let them get a sense of what this curriculum is.” The Soulfire Teacher Solidarity Tour concerts are free for educators of all types and a guest via Each show, including the Sunday, December 16 gig at The Van Buren, will also see Little Steven and his TeachRock staff hosting free professional development workshops designed to engage educators with techniques and content through which they can use music to inspire students. In many locations, the workshop will also count toward continuing education hours and license renewal. “Teachers are underappreciated and underpaid,” he says. “We found out they have to do professional development every year to certify, which they have to pay for out of their already-meager salaries. “This is a little different than the professional development experience they may be used to. This is a rock ‘n’ roll experience. They come to the show for free. The curriculum is free and the showcase is free.”




The spots on the tour itinerary align with states whose teachers went on strike or are considering it. “We thought, ‘Let’s go to those states and just shore up the support in the local community for the teachers,” Van Zandt says. “That’s what we’ve decided to do. We’re going to every place where they were having problems or went on strike. We always hope they don’t have to go on strike and the community will support them.” Van Zandt, the longtime guitarist for Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, is pushing his first solo album in 20 years. Soulfire has 12 songs, including the title track, “St. Valentine’s Day” and “Love on the Wrong Side of Town,” written by Van Zandt and Springsteen. It was followed by Soulfire Live!, featuring songs like “Standing in the Line of Fire” and “I Don’t Want to Go Home,” along with covers such as The Electric Flag’s “Groovin’ Is Easy,” Etta James’ “Blues Is My Business” and James Brown’s “Down and Out in New York City.” “The live album is an entire show plus an hour of extra songs,” Van Zandt says. He is working on a new album, the details of which he was not ready to divulge. Right

Steven Van Zandt, longtime guitarist for Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, performs at The Van Buren on December 16. (Photo special to LLAF)

Myron Sommerfeld Orchestra, 7 p.m. Las Palmas Grand, 2550 S. Ellsworth, Mesa, call for charge, 480-357-1148. Downtown Mesa Festival of the Arts, 2 to 8 p.m. repeats December 15, Downtown Mesa on Macdonald Street, off Main Street, free admission, Hillcrest Dance, 7 to 9:30 p.m., Hillcrest Dance and Social Club, 19803 RH Johnson Boulevard, Sun City, $4 members, $6 guests, 623-302-0249. Midnight Moon provides the music. Sunland Village Songsters Christmas Concert, 7 p.m., Sunland Village Auditorium, 4601 E. Dolphin Avenue, Mesa, tickets TBA, 480-832-9003.

Sunday, December 2

Sunland Village Songsters Christmas Concert, 2 p.m., Sunland Village Auditorium, 4601 E. Dolphin Avenue, Mesa, tickets TBA, 480-832-9003. Line Dance, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Greenfield Village RV Resort, 111 S. Greenfield Road, Mesa, $5, 480-832-3844.

Happy Hanukkah from all of us at Lovin’ Life After 50!

Monday, December 3

now, he’s focused on helping teachers. “Once they canceled all the arts classes, it became more important than ever to have a music presence in the system,” he says. “I wanted to make sure, in the heart of the system, there was some kind of music being discussed, heard and talked about. I wanted to make sure the teachers had an opportunity to be creative.”


What: Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, December 16 Where: The Van Buren, 401 W. Van Buren Street, Phoenix Cost: Free to $299 Info:

Strength and Balance, 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Mondays, AZ Healing Center, 9336 E. Raintree Drive, Suite 130, Scottsdale, must email SilverSneakers, Silver ‘n Fit or other Medicare options’ card number to The class is 50 percent standing, 50 percent seated. Chordial-Aires Women’s Show Chorus Rehearsal, noon to 2:30 p.m. Mondays, Our Saviors Epiphany Lutheran Church’s choir room, 1050 W. Superstition Boulevard, Apache Junction, free, 480-807-0031, jereridoreme@ Prospective members welcome. The in-costume performances are in February and March, entertaining in RV parks, churches and various East Valley venues. Meditation Mudra Mantra, 10 to 11:30 a.m., AZ Healing Center, 9336 E. Raintree Drive, Suite 130, Scottsdale, $25, registration required, 480-712-3685. Join Amy Stephens in this guided workshop to understand how hand gestures (mudras) can assist in bringing calmness, and how the repetition of a word or phrase (mantra) can be a support.

Tuesday, December 4

Chair Yoga, 10 to 11 a.m. Tuesdays, AZ Healing Center, 9336 E. Raintree Drive, Suite 130, Scottsdale, must email SilverSneakers, Silver ‘n Fit or other Medicare options’ card number to The class is 50 percent standing, 50 percent seated. Kaleidoscope Dance’s Tai Chi, 1 to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, Kaleidoscope Dance, 2848 S. Carriage Lane, Mesa, $12 for a dropin class, $40 for four classes, 480-692-0332, The easy-to-learn beginner’s classes for all ages are taught by certified Tai Chi instructor Trudy Sherman. They are beneficial for those with Parkinson’s disease. Sit and Knit, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., repeats December 11 and December 18, Valley of the Sun JCC, 12701 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, free, 480-4817033, Colorectal Cancer Support Group, 6 to 7:30 p.m., Ironwood Cancer and Research Centers, 8880 E. Desert Cove Avenue, Scottsdale, free, 480-314-6660,

Wednesday, December 5

Breast Cancer Support Group, 10 a.m. to noon, Ironwood Cancer and Research Centers, 685 S. Dobson Road, Chandler, free, 480-314-6660, Strength and Balance, 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., AZ Healing Center, 9336 E. Raintree Drive, Suite 130, Scottsdale, must email SilverSneakers, Silver ‘n Fit or other Medicare options’ card number to The class is 50 percent standing, 50 percent seated. Tribute to Kenny Rogers, 7 p.m., Sunland Village Auditorium, 4601 E. Dolphin Avenue, Mesa, $12 and $15, 480-832-9003. It’s Not Just Lunch, noon to 1:30 p.m., Valley of the Sun JCC, 12701 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, free, 480-481-7033, harrietc@vosjcc. org. Bill Adler leads a discussion each month on current events. Bring ideas to share. Parkinson’s Cycling, noon to 12:45 p.m. Wednesdays, Valley of the Sun JCC, 12701 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, free for members,

$8 guests, or $50 for 10 classes, 480-481-7015, The stationary cycle workout to music awakens areas of the brain affected by Parkinson’s disease while strengthening the lower body and improving motor skills.

Thursday, December 6

Lung Cancer Support Group, 6 to 7:30 p.m., Ironwood Cancer and Research Centers, 685 S. Dobson Road, Chandler, free, 480-314-6660, Merrymakers Dances, 7 to 10 p.m., Las Palmas Grand, 2550 S. Ellsworth Road, Mesa, $7 members, $8 nonmembers, 480-654-1994, DK Orchestra provides the music. Lunch and Learn, 11 a.m., Messinger Mortuary, 7601 E. Indian School Road, Scottsdale, free, reservations required, 480-970-3134, Christina Epley, community relations with Pueblo Norte Senior Living Community, will discuss senior living options and costs, home health vs. home care, the importance of planning ahead and when it’s time to make a change. A question-and-answer session is included.

Friday, December 7

Valley Engineering, Science and Technology Club Meeting, 11:30 a.m., Briarwood Country Club, 20800 N. 135th Avenue, Sun City West, $22, reservations required, 623-544-0942, Luncheon will be followed by a technical presentation by professor Klaus Lackner, director of the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions at ASU. The use of fossil fuels produces vast amounts of carbon dioxide waste, which accumulates and lingers in the atmosphere for millennia. Still missing is an affordable technology for recovering this excess CO2 from the environment. Lackner will discuss an approach to direct air capture and explain how it can become an affordable and scalable option for reinventing the world’s energy infrastructure. Chair Yoga, 10 to 11 a.m., AZ Healing Center, 9336 E. Raintree Drive, Suite 130, Scottsdale, must email SilverSneakers, Silver ‘n Fit or other Medicare options’ card number to The class is 50 percent standing, 50 percent seated.

Blood Drive, 8 a.m. to noon, Sunland Village’s South Parking Lot, 4601 E. Dolphin Avenue, Mesa, free, 480-832-9003. Appointments required.

Saturday, December 8

Breast Cancer Support Group, 6 to 7:30 p.m., Ironwood Cancer and Research Centers, 8880 E. Desert Cove Avenue, Scottsdale, free, 480-3146660, Mesa Book Festival, 2 to 8 p.m., Downtown Mesa, on Macdonald Street between Main Street and First Avenue, free admission, More than 85 vendors will have a diverse offering of books. There will be author presentations and panels, as well as an open mic poetry stage. Hillcrest Dance, 7 to 9:30 p.m., Hillcrest Dance and Social Club, 19803 RH Johnson Boulevard, Sun City, $4 members, $6 guests, 623-302-0249. The Breeze provides the music. Free cake at intermission. Arizona Big Train Operators Club Members’ Open House, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., repeats December 9, December 15 and December 16, various locations in the West Valley, Mesa, Sun Lakes, San Tan Valley and Apache Junction, free, donations accepted,

Sunday, December 9

The Play’s the Thing, 1 to 2 p.m., Valley of the Sun JCC, 12701 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, $5 members, $8 guests, registration required at Explore the inner workings of theater through play-reading and discussion with John Perovich of the Now and Then Creative Company. Learn about acting and the script analysis techniques that artists use to when creating theater.

Discussion with the Rabbi, 11 a.m. to noon, Valley of the Sun JCC, 12701 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, free, 602-492-7670, chani@sosaz. org. Gather together with Rabbi Levi Levertov for a discussion on an issue relevant to Judaism in contemporary society. HLAA West Valley Chapter Meeting, 1 to 3 p.m., First Presbyterian Church, 12225 N. 103rd Avenue, Sun City, free, melanie.orourke@gmail. com, Michele Michaels, hard of hearing manager for the Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing, will speak at the meeting.

Wednesday, December 12

General Cancer Support Group, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Ironwood Cancer and Research Centers, 5810 W. Beverly Lane, Glendale, free, 480-3146660,

Thursday, December 13

Merrymakers Dances, 7 to 10 p.m., Las Palmas Grand, 2550 S. Ellsworth Road, Mesa, $7 members, $8 nonmembers, 480-654-1994, Swing Memories Big Band provides the music. Arts and Culture: The Making of Modern, 11 a.m. to noon, Valley of the Sun JCC, 12701 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, $5 members, $8 guests, registration required at modern. Explore the pivotal years in modern art when Picasso, Matisse, Stravinsky, Hemingway and Stein revolutionized the arts. Jeri Benoit shares the story.

Friday, December 14

Meet the Author with Paula Goldsmith, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Discovery Point Retirement Community, 6210 E. Arbor Avenue, Mesa, free admission, Goldsmith will sign her four books, which will be for sale.

Monday, December 10

Saturday, December 15

Tuesday, December 11

Downtown Mesa Festival of the Arts, 2 to 8 p.m., Downtown Mesa on Macdonald Street, off Main Street, free admission,

Prostate Cancer Support Group, 7 to 9 p.m., Ironwood Cancer and Research Centers, 685 S. Dobson Road, Chandler, free, 480-314-6660, Leukemia and Lymphoma Support Group, 6 to 7:30 p.m., Ironwood Cancer and Research Centers, 8880 E. Desert Cove Avenue, Scottsdale, free, 480-314-6660,

Caregiver Support Group, 10 a.m. to noon, Ironwood Cancer and Research Centers, 685 S. Dobson Road, Chandler, free, 480-314-6660,

Calendar ...continues on page 22




Calendar of Events Thursday, December 20 continued from page 21

Hillcrest Dance, 7 to 9:30 p.m., Hillcrest Dance and Social Club, 19803 RH Johnson Boulevard, Sun City, $4 members, $6 guests, 623-302-0249. Bobby Freeman and Charlene provide the music. Sunland Village Karaoke Night, 6 to 9 p.m., Sunland Village Auditorium, 4601 E. Dolphin Avenue, Mesa, $2, 480-832-9003.

Monday, December 17

Head and Neck Cancer Support Group, 3 to 4:30 p.m., Ironwood Cancer and Research Centers, 685 S. Dobson Road, Chandler, 480-3146660,

Tuesday, December 18

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Art Appreciation, 11 a.m. to noon, Valley of the Sun JCC, 12701 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, free, 480-481-7033, Share the world of art with special visual presentations each month by docents from the Phoenix Art Museum. This month’s topic is Italian Frescoes: The Search for the Sublime.

Wednesday, December 19

Finding Hope in the Midst of Despair, 1 to 2 p.m., Valley of the Sun JCC, 12701 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, $5, $8 guests, ciner. Rabbi Alan G. Ciner, vice president of Touro College, explores the historical and contemporary examples of individuals who found hope in the midst of despair.

Merrymakers Dances, 7 to 10 p.m., Las Palmas Grand, 2550 S. Ellsworth Road, Mesa, $7 members, $8 nonmembers, 480-654-1994, DK Orchestra provides the music. Mature Mavens Dinner, 5 p.m., various location, dinner is separate checks, 602-371-3744.

Friday, December 21

General Cancer Support Group, 10 a.m. to noon, Ironwood Cancer and Research Centers, 14810 N. Del Webb Boulevard, Unit 3, Sun City, 480-314-6660, Myron Sommerfeld Orchestra, 7 p.m., Venture Out, 5001 E. Main Street, Mesa, call for charge, 480-832-9000.

Saturday, December 22

Hillcrest Dance, 7 to 9:30 p.m., Hillcrest Dance and Social Club, 19803 RH Johnson Boulevard, Sun City, $4 members, $6 guests, 623-302-0249. Michael Carollo and Manuel Dorantes provide the music at this semiformal dance.

Friday, December 28

Phoenix Suns vs. OKC Thunder, 7 p.m., Talking Stick Resort Arena, 201 E. Jefferson Street, Phoenix, various costs, 1-800-745-3000,

Saturday, December 29

Hillcrest Dance’s New Year’s Eve Party, 7 to 9:30 p.m., Hillcrest Dance and Social Club, 19803 RH Johnson Boulevard, Sun City, $4 members, $6 guests, 623-302-0249.

Monday, December 31

Sunland Village’s New Year’s Eve Dinner Dance, 5 to 10:30 p.m., Sunland Village Auditorium, 4601 E. Dolphin Avenue, Mesa, $50,, 480-832-9003. The prime rib dinner is catered by Ed, with dance music by That Kool Band. New Year’s Eve with Urban Crossroads, 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., Greenfield Village RV Resort, 111 S. Greenfield Road, Mesa, $20 in advance, $25 at the door, 480832-3844. Tickets available for purchase in the activities office after December 10.

Sunland Village Karaoke Night, 6 to 9 p.m., Sunland Village Auditorium, 4601 E. Dolphin Avenue, Mesa, $2, 480-832-9003.

Thursday, December 27

Merrymakers Dances, 7 to 10 p.m., Las Palmas Grand, 2550 S. Ellsworth Road, Mesa, $7 members, $8 nonmembers, 480-654-1994, The Breeze provides the music.

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Haley Gold and Spencer Bryant comprise pop duo 76th Street. (Photo special to LLAF)

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76th Street performs at Phoenix Festival of the Arts, plans EP BY CHRISTINA FUOCO-KARASINSKI Haley Gold and Spencer Bryant of pop band 76th Street have kept their shows intimate and personable since they began singing together in a Scottsdale elementary school. That all changed this year. Their personalities are shining through even more, and the venues are growing. Earlier this year, the duo released its single “Close” and it helped the ladies earn a spot at the ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo. The California event provides aspiring songwriters and composers with networking opportunities, one-on-one feedback and real-world advice from hitmaking songwriters. “It was definitely a highlight for us, to be around a ton of world-renowned writers and performers like Jason Mraz and Marc Cohn,” Bryant says. “We performed in Los Angeles and had great music industry experiences.” Gold explains the day after their expo performance, they learned the expo was worth the car ride. “We went to all the workshops and nobody knew who we were,” she says. “After our performance, everywhere we were going, people were stopping us to comment on our performance. We met a ton of people there and now they’re following us (on social media) and keeping in touch.”

“Close” wasn’t the only thing that propelled their popularity. The women, who regularly play the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa in Scottsdale, say the band’s recent “refresh” did so as well. “We rebooted who we are as artists,” Gold says. “We amped up what we were doing already. We made our show bigger. The show we’re performing now was inspired by that (ASCAP) performance. “Our sound is evolving. Before, we would consider our music indie, almost indie folk rock. Now we’re more pop. We have choreography in our performance and the tracks are definitely more danceable. We don’t have a full band, or a history of dance lessons. It’s still great, though.” The act will show off its new sound on the Phoenix Festival of the Arts main stage for the first time. The expected audience is 11,000. Bryant sees the gig (which takes place at 1 p.m. Sunday, December 9) as an opportunity to introduce “who we are now to a bigger audience.” “Some listeners are surprised that two people can create such a big sound,” Bryant says. “That’s been one of our goals.” Gold adds, “We want people to listen, but to watch as well. It’s really, really helped with our fan base.” Gold and Bryant met in the fifth grade at Grayhawk Elementary School in Scotts-

dale. It was musical magic. “I was singing and we started singing together,” Gold says. “The rest is history. We never stopped after that day.” Bryant plays guitar in 76th Street and Gold plays piano and percussion. The Pinnacle High School and ASU graduates (college class of 2017) were told they had “womb-to-tomb” appeal by an entertainment executive. The duo has worked with heavy hitters. The single “You and I” was produced by Grammy winner Robb Vallier. Rami Jaffee, formerly of the Wallflowers and the Foo Fighters, played organ on the song, which is available on iTunes and Amazon. The women are adamant about writing songs together – mostly at night. Bryant wants fans to know that she and Gold’s tunes are more meaningful than “mushy love songs.” “We write about self-empowerment and being independent,” she says. “It’s different. That’s really what ‘You and I’ is about – not settling for less than you deserve and

really remembering your worth. I think we have a great message with our music.” This month, 76th Street is planning to release a self-titled EP and they’ll spend 2019 promoting it. Gold and Bryant hope to release videos for each of the songs by the end of that year, too. “We’re trying to spread that throughout Arizona and everywhere else,” Bryant says. “We have a lot of plans.” Among those plans is to visit their alma mater in 50 years. Sounds ambitious, but 76th Street put two of its CDs in a time capsule that ASU officials buried in the new student pavilion. “I already put the date they’re going to open the time capsule in my calendar,” Gold says.


What: 76th Street at the Phoenix Festival of the Arts When: 1 p.m. Sunday, December 9 Where: Margaret T. Hance Park, 1202 N. Third Street, Phoenix Cost: Free Info:,

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Christmas with Margaret O’Brien BY NICK THOMAS Adorable Margaret O’Brien began her big-screen career at the age of 3 with a one-minute spot in 1941’s Babes on Broadway. Her career took off the following year as the star of MGM’s Journey for Margaret. Throughout the 1940s, she continued to endear herself to millions seeking Hollywood diversions as World War II came and went. Ms. O’Brien, now 81, is back this holiday season starring in This Is Our Christmas, a sequel to the popular 2015 TV movie Beverly Hills Christmas, and follows the Foxworth family seven years after the original picture.  The film had its broadcast premiere on the UPtv network in November, followed by DVD distribution through Walmart and Target, and will be rebroadcast on UPtv in December (see   O’Brien is no stranger to holiday classics, having appeared in Meet Me in St. Louis

(1944), Tenth Avenue Angel (1948), and Little Women (1949), which all featured themes and/or songs relating to Christmas festivities. Appearing in almost 20 feature films throughout the ‘40s, O’Brien was one of only a dozen children to receive a Juvenile Academy Award when the prize was intermittently given from 1935-1961. She astonished audiences with a display of adult emotions though she was not yet even a teenager. “I think movie kids are just a little more mature in some ways,” O’Brien says. “I knew it was a job, not playacting, and that others depended on me to know my lines. I took my work very seriously.”  Though she says she never watches her own films, she claims she can recall even her first brief role in Babes starring Mickey Rooney.   “Mickey and I didn’t have any scenes

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Publicity still from Meet Me in St. Louis with Judy Garland (Photo courtesy MGM)

together, but I can still remember him walking by and saying ‘Hello, what a cute little girl!’ I sort of have a photographic memory and can remember all my movies just like I was back there now.” An avid reader as a child, little Margaret was thrilled to tackle many roles based on the books she grew up reading, such as Little Women, Jane Eyre, and The Secret Garden.   “How many children get to play a character from their favorite books?” she asks. “I knew them so well, it was just fabulous to create them on the screen.” And unlike many child actors who ventured into the darker side of Hollywood and fame, O’Brien never strayed.  “My mother raised me to be pretty well grounded,” she says. “So I never had the problems that a lot of child actors faced. Acting has been a wonderful career, and still is.”

An early publicity shot of Margaret O’Brien (Photo special to LLAF) Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn University at Montgomery and has written features and columns for over 700 magazines and newspapers. Visit

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Margaret O’Brien in a still from This Is Our Christmas, released on DVD in November (Photos courtesy Five Arts Films)


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Travel Beaches and Blessings A Yucatán land safari with Victory Cruise Lines BY ED BOITANO

Photos by Deb Roskamp

It almost felt like the dawn of a new age, as the morning sun first showered the ruins of Chichen Itza with light.

People watch in awe as the morning sun first breaks over the ruins of Chichen Itza, a Mayan city considered one of the new seven wonders of the world. A shaman conducts a purification ritual in the small contemporary Maya town of Nolo, while a farmer cuts branches off an agave plant which will be stripped and made into rope (sisal) at the Hacienda of Sotuta de Peon. This is the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. It is an enchanting land of breathtaking beauty and allurement, humble and hospitable people, green jungles and sublime beaches, ancient Mayan ruins and magnificent Spanish colonial cities. My exploration was made possible by Victory Cruise Line’s editorial research tour, which captured the highlights of the land safari portion of their upcoming groundbreaking winter itinerary to the Yucatán. What I found impressive is that Victory Cruise Lines is creating new

(formerly secret) tourist destinations and charities to improve the local populace’s standard of living.

An Overview of the Maya

The Maya is considered the most advanced of all the classical civilizations of Mesoamerica. Originating in the Yucatán around 2600 B.C., they rose to prominence around 250 A.D. in present-day southern Mexico, Guatemala, western Honduras, El Salvador, and northern Belize. Their mythology tells us they emerged from an underground network of limestone caverns, made by fresh water that still nourishes the Yucatán today. Sacred sinkholes (cenote) constituted both life and death to the Maya; it was where they were born, and, after death, where their bodies were deposed. As the centuries progressed, so did their culture, with the building of magnificent cities with

Xcaret in Playa del Carmen brings to mind the Epcot theme park at Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort. 




There were battles with the Iron Age Spaniards against the Stone Age Maya, in which the Maya would generally lose. European diseases spread, which further decimated the Maya populace. Statistics show that 90 percent of the Americas’ indigenous people died from these diseases.


The trip officially commenced in Cancun on the eastern shore of the Yucatán. Once a sleepy jungle village, today it is the most popular tourist resort city in Mexico. I could see there were many beach experiences available, but we had something on our agenda that almost defies description – lunch in a restaurant actually situated inside a massive subterranean cavern. Negotiating our way down a flight of stairs to the opening of the chamber was akin to entering a new world. Despite Alux Restaurant’s rustic venue, we were received with fine attention, candlelit tables and local gourmet food, with the caves decorated by Mother Nature’s stalactites and stalagmites. If this is where life begins, I was off to a good start. The next stop was the Mayan city of Tulum, built during the decline of the Maya

temples and pyramids, perhaps influenced by the ancient city of Teotihuacan in central Mexico. Like the later Aztecs, the Maya civilization was based on the concept of city-states as opposed to empires like the Incas. The Maya also developed a script of 800 words, the only known fully developed writing system of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as stunning works of art, mathematical and astronomical systems. Ball games were instituted with either the leader of the winning team or captain of the losing team sacrificed – the greatest honor in the Maya Left: A patron braves his way into the deep underground passage to Alux religion. There is still a debate Restaurant Bar and Lounge. Right: Nestled in Playa del Carmen, Alux is situated in a 1,000 year-old cavern, and features one of the most unique about why the civilization de- restaurant settings in the world. clined in the 8th century: Was it from an environmental disaster, overpopu- civilization as a port city for trade. It’s been lation, wars with other Maya city-states, spruced up in the last 10 years with a new disease, or a 17-year-long drought? No one entrance and wide expanses of green grass. knows for sure. But one by one, classic Maya Its position on 39-foot-tall cliffs still makes a cities in the southern lowlands were aban- striking image today. Xcaret features more than 50 natural and doned, and by 900 A.D., Maya civilization in cultural attractions devoted to Mexico. The that region had collapsed forever. centerpiece is the Xcaret México Espectacular show, where we dined while taking The Spaniards Arrive In 1517, when the Spanish conquistadors a trip through the history of Mexico from first arrived in the Yucatán, they found pre-Hispanic times to present day at the a landscape dotted with epic mounds. gigantic stage of the Gran Tlachco Theater. Upon further inspection, they discovered More than 300 actors and artists in period abandoned Mayan cities hidden by in- costumes were on display, complete with tense jungle growth. It is believed that 25 live musicians and singers. A personal favorsquare miles of Chichen Itza is still buried ite was a duet between a Mayan playing a today. Small numbers of Maya curtailed to wooden flute and a Spaniard strumming a the highlands, living as hunter-gatherers. guitar, which illustrated the melding of

Selva Maya’s cenote is one of the best known Mayan sinkholes, which resulted from the collapse of limestone bedrock. Sacred underground springs provide fresh water for the entire Yucatán Peninsula.

tures of the Old World with the New World ing Mayan town of Nolo for a purification ritual, conducted by a real Mayan shaman. of the Americas. The “Yellow City” of Izamal features a The ritual began by drinking a glass of an monastery built on an enormous Mayan undisclosed liquid, followed by a Yucatec pyramid along with colonial buildings – all Maya prayer by the shaman, who then painted golden-yellow, a manifestation of anointed us with splashes of sacred water. the Maya sun god. In 1963, preaching in Our group was completely mesmerized by Spanish from that very monastery, Pope the experience, and it was hard to get back John Paul II issued these words: “I ask for on the coach. The walled city of Campeche is one of the your pardon for what we did to the indigenous peoples in the name of the cross.” It was the first time the Vatican had ever apologized for their injustices. This enthralled the populace, which decided to keep Izamal yellow forever, which today is often referred to as “Vatican Yellow” as a gesture to the papacy. The afternoon ended in what many of us considered the highlight of the named Campeche a model of colonial baroque city safari: an exploration of the sacred site UNESCO planning, and it joined the list of World Heritage Sites in 1999. of Chichen Itza. Built at the peak of the Mayan classical period over 1,000 years ago, most beautiful Spanish colonial capitals in it is one of the greatest Mayan cities of the Mexico. It’s a remarkably preserved 17thYucatán Peninsula. We bumped around on century port town spread along the Gulf foot in the night, soon to be confronted of Mexico with idyllic beaches, a malecón with the entire city shrouded in colorful (boardwalk), historic fishing docks and an lights. Several buildings have survived the active market. Its walled city center was built ravages of time, such as the Warriors’ Tem- for protection primarily from pirates. Inside ple, the stunning El Castillo pyramid built you’ll find almost a fairy tale enclave of reover a sinkhole, and the circular observa- stored pastel buildings, magnificent cathetory known as El Caracol. There was even a drals, pristine cobblestone streets, fortified full-length ball court, where players could ramparts and well-preserved mansions. As my exploration with Victory Cruise not use their arms or legs while attempting to aim a rubber ball into a concrete basket. Lines ended, I wondered why the entire The evening ended with a “Sound and Light Yucatán Peninsula was not considered one of the new seven wonders of the world. I Show” projected on El Castillo. In the early morning, it was back to did know, though, that I would return to the Chichen Itza to witness the rising sun bless- Yucatán again. For more information, visit Victory Cruise ing at El Castillo. It was well worth washing Lines at the sleep from your eyes. Later, our destination was the

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Park — up close and personal. Come and experience true Alaskan hospitality in this historic back country lodge. (800) 942-7420 or KETCHIKAN VISITORS BUREAU – Our charming town, in the heart of Alaska’s famed Inside Passage, offers much to see and do. World class -fishing, outdoor Fax adventure, Alaska Native cultural events, spectacular scenery, shopping and more. Only a 90-minute flight from Seattle, and a top cruise destination, Ketchikan delivers beyond expectation. Call our knowledgeable staff and visit our website to get started on your adventure. (800) 770-3300 or

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A Winter Haven

For more information Palisades Visitors Center

The complete guide to visiting Mount Lemmon

Santa Catalina Ranger District 520-749-8700



The Living Rainbow

Ski Valley

University of Arizona SkyCenter

Iron Door Restaurant

A woman snaps a photograph of the view from Windy Point near Mount Lemmon.

Sawmill Run Restaurant Mount Lemmon. It’s the place where Tucsonans go to play in snow in the winter, cool off in the summer, and take a day trip when a weeklong vacation abroad might not be in the budget. For newbies, Mount Lemmon is in the Santa Catalinas, surrounded by the Coronado National Forest. It’s a good 20 to 30 degrees cooler and only takes about an hour to get to Summerhaven, a quaint little town tucked into the mountains. I spent the day in Mount Lemmon and discovered what to do, what to eat, and where to stay in the whimsical area. Here is your complete guide to visiting Mount Lemmon.

Getting there

Because you’ll be traveling up a mountain, the road will be curvy and sometimes a bit congested with other cars and bicyclists. But the scenery is nothing short of breathtaking. There are a handful of pullouts along the road, in addition to scenic byways, which make it easy to park your car, stretch your legs and take in the view. One of the most popular spots is Windy Point, which overlooks mountains and trees.

What to do

On your way up the mountain, you’ll pass Rose Canyon. Besides the pretty name, Rose Canyon is home to a campground and a lake, which is perfect for fishing. Forgot your fishing pole? Maybe try the hiking trails instead – there are several in the area. One of the most popular is the Butterfly



DECEMBER 2018 The view from the popular pull-out Windy Point, on the way up Mount Lemmon, is breathtaking.

The Cookie Cabin

skis and snowboards available for rent in the winter, in addition to its own ski school. At the top of the mountain is the University of Arizona’s SkyCenter. The observatory features SkyNights, complete with public telescopes. Stargazing has never been so easy. Other activities include horseback riding, rock climbing, wildlife viewing and birding. Camping is also available. Trail, which is near the Palisades Visitor Center. Once you reach Summerhaven, you’ll definitely want to make a stop at the Mount Lemmon General Store & Gift Shop. The shop sells necessities such as snacks and water, in addition to novelty trinkets and souvenirs that you can’t find elsewhere. But here’s the best part: The general store specializes in homemade fudge in more Two travelers sit at Windy Point, near Mount Lemmon, to take in the view.

than a dozen mouthwatering flavors. The raspberry chocolate swirl is my favorite. The Living Rainbow gift shop is another worthy spot. The shop features colorful souvenirs and artsy knickknacks. When it snows on Mount Lemmon, skiing and snowboarding are popular activities. Next to Summerhaven is Ski Valley, which has a year-round ski lift. Ski Valley also has

Where to eat

Picnic tables are abundant throughout Mount Lemmon, but if you’re not in the mood to pack your own sandwiches, don’t fret! Restaurants are a worthy option. The Iron Door Restaurant, located in Ski Valley, offers breakfast and lunch. For lunch, the restaurant serves nine sandwich options, homemade soups and chili, and delicious appetizers. And you can’t forget about the homemade pies. If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, head to Summerhaven for a bite to eat at the Sawmill Run Restaurant. The restaurant’s cozy cabin vibes pair well with the menu’s comfort foods. They have soups, salads, sandwiches and burgers, in addition to a list of “smokehouse favorites,” such as smoked baby back ribs and sausage. The Cookie Cabin is also in Summerhaven. With a name like that, who wouldn’t want to eat there? The family-owned

Left to Right: The Cookie Cabin is a popular stop in Mount Lemmon. The restaurant serves oversize cookies with several scoops of ice cream on top; The Mount Lemmon General Store & Gift Shop specializes in homemade fudge. The Raspberry Chocolate Swirl is a favorite flavor; The pulled pork sandwich with sweet potato tots from Sawmill Run Restaurant in Summerhaven is a must-try. The sandwich is made of slow-smoked pork served on a telera roll with barbecue sauce and blue cheese coleslaw.

taurant serves giant homemade cookies, some topped with six scoops of ice cream. Its website says that one cookie can feed “four people, two raccoons or one hungry cyclist.” The Cookie Cabin also serves lunch items, including pizza and hot dogs.

Where to stay

If you’re looking to submerge in the true Mount Lemmon experience, camping might be the option for you. There are

three campgrounds in Mount Lemmon, all of which are spacious and scenic, to say the very least. Alternatively, cabins are available to rent and they’re as cozy as they look. Visit for details. Excited for your trip to Mount Lemmon yet? I would be. Don’t forget to bring your camera, bottles of water, and your favorite walking shoes.

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Dining Changing the Foodscape Red Mountain Bar and Grill’s menu goes beyond the usual BY CHRISTINA FUOCO-KARASINSKI Comfort foods are sure to accomplish their goals. Build-your-own mac and cheese and grilled cheese are available (starts at $6.95), as well as chicken tenders and Maryland-style Mahi fried filet fingers and chips ($13.95), the latter of which is a house special. Philly and hoagie sandwiches include ingredients like rib-eye steak, shrimp and Andouille sausage ($12.95). House-crafted sandwiches like the barbecue and Santa Fe pulls pile meat atop a ciabatta bun ($9.95). The holiday burger – brioche bun topped with sweet cranberry relish, a halfpound stuffed turkey patty, white cheddar cheese, garlic mashed potatoes, brown gravy, lettuce and tomato – is a favorite at $14.95, as is the chili cheese dog ($9.95). The pasta menu features spaghetti, pesto chicken with fettuccini Alfredo, Nawleens penne pasta (with Andouille sausage and The Maryland-style Mahi fried filet fingers and chips is a house favorite. chicken) and lemon fetThe extensive menu proves his point. tuccini chicken ($14.95). On Thursdays, the staff celebrates the It starts with dips and bar items, including typical snacks like potato skins and life of Anthony Bourdain with dishes like jalapeño poppers ($7.95). But it steps be- Asian lettuce wraps with house-stuffed yond traditional fare. Stuffed mushroom crab wontons, and a filet with Santa Fe caps have items like chorizo ($8.95), and shrimp cocktail. Rowe says his menu reflects his family’s tater tots are filled with a variety of flavors ($8.50). It continues with smothered fries/ traditions. “Most of my recipes come from sliders/marinated skewers with options like my family get-togethers,” he says. “We’re poutine with Brie cheese curds (starts at very big on food, beer, wine and fun. Ev$9.95), tri-tip sliders ($9.95) and marinated erything that comes off the grill – all the barbecue and Mahi – is what we’ve been filet steak cube skewers ($12.95). The wraps go beyond the usual. Sesame doing for years.” Rowe has a restaurant background. His lime steak wrap features a half pound of rib-eye loin, thinly sliced and cooked with father owned five Italian eateries in Coloa touch of lime juice, honey, toasted sesa- rado, which is reflected at Red Mountain me seeds, ginger and a sweet chile sauce Bar and Grill in John Elway and Peyton Man($12.95). Bacon and Hatch chile, California, ning jerseys. Rowe worked at Bennigan’s and Buffalo chicken wraps are also avail- and high-end restaurants in California, and was classically trained in Newport Beach, able. Jon and Elena Rowe want to change the Northeast Mesa food culture through their new restaurant, Red Mountain Bar and Grill. “We’re going to take this place from a bar that serves food, to a destination restaurant that has a great bar,” he says. “Everybody’s buying into it. The (staff) is challenged to make better food. A lot of them come from steakhouse backgrounds or somewhere they worked a fryer for four or five years. We’re totally changing their foodscape.”




Jon and Elena Rowe are proud of their extensive menu and friendly atmosphere at Red Mountain Bar and Grill. (Photos by Kimberly Carrillo)

California. He recently sold a janitorial company that cleaned 1,200 restaurants from Flagstaff to Tucson. “I’ve never been far from the restaurant businesses even when I was doing that,” he says. “I was able to scratch the itch with Red Mountain Bar and Grill. This location is fantastic. It’s a neat little place. “I added a few touches. The pony wall is crucial to the restaurant culture. When it

wasn’t there, guests would wonder if it’s a restaurant or bar. Now, when they walk in, it’s a split-second thing. It’s a restaurant with a bar. This is a happy place.”

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Also offered with Mahi, the filet mignon strawberry salad is topped with house-made strawberry vinaigrette, fresh strawberries and apples.

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On ‘Cue The Tennessee Grill & Bar serves superb smoked meats and more BY NIKI D’ANDREA The smell of slow-smoked meats and tangy barbecue sauce fills the large and bustling space that is The Tennessee Grill & Bar every night, creating a mouth-watering wait on especially busy nights, like Wednesdays, when tender, smoked chicken wings are on special, and Fridays, when the all-you-can-eat fish fry draws locals in droves for hand-carved and battered fish. This neighborhood breakfast and barbecue joint serves some of the best food in Anthem, and some of the best barbecue in the Valley. The ambiance is open and airy, with lots of big windows, and welcoming, with flat-screen TVs hanging throughout the restaurant showing various sports. The aforementioned slow-smoked chicken wings are just the start, slathered in “hot sauce” that was not really hot – at least not by the standards of someone who enjoys raw jalapeños and Tabasco sauce on almost everything. But those thighs and wings were toothsome and juicy, with smoky overtones that sat well on the palate until washed down by whiskey – or beer. There are several of each on The Tennessee Grill menu. Fried pickles pack just the right amount of flavorful crunch in circular, ridged chips that yield juicy, warm interiors. The onion rings are also a nice starter, or better yet

Smoked chicken wings are on special Wednesday nights.




a crispy side to accompany Bob’s Bitchin’ Burger, named after Tennesse Grill owner Bob Adler. This burger is serious – two plump patties of hand-pressed hamburger made from freshly ground brisket and chuck, grilled to order and served on a bun that can’t hold up to the bulging, juicy beef. But the weak bread is the only weak thing about this burger, which bursts with beefy flavor. Sandwich seekers will find a variety of equally fresh and tasty options, from a crunchy turkey bacon club wrap to a plump po’ boy bulging with shrimp on a French roll, piled with coleslaw and tomato slices and drizzled with roumelade sauce. The hearty breakfast omelettes and chicken sandwiches and wraps and such are all good, but the barbecue is really what’s cooking at Tennessee Grill. Not only do the savory smells establish that right away, but so does the décor, in the form of shelves of sauces and rubs for sale by the register in the lobby, and the T-shirts hanging on the wall that say things like “You pull my pork, I’ll rub your ribs,” “‘Take my last piece of bacon’… said no one ever” and “We have the best smelling butts in AZ.” Ribs steal the show – tender and easily sliced off the bone, they posses a charred, chewy exterior bursting with flavor from

Half-rack of ribs with baked beans and tater tots (Photos by Niki D’Andrea)

Platters with various combinations are the meat rubs and smoker. Tennessee available for diners who can’t decide on Grill’s house-made sauces are a nice complement, especially the smoky and tangy just one meat. But wait, there’s more. While TennesSmoky Mountain Zinger BBQ Sauce. The see Grill lacks Smoky Mouna bona fide tain Bourbon happy hour, BBQ Sauce also its drinks are adds a nice always reasonkick to the palably priced ate, but lovers ($7.50 for a of truly spicy 22-ounce food will be draft beer) disappointed and they offer – there’s nothan impressive ing truly incenmenu of fruit diary, or even smoothies mildly hot, and specialty among the coffees. condiments. With its Pulled pork proximity is perfectly to shopping tender and malls, the I-17, delight fully and Discount chewy, full Tire (customof flavor and ers frequently moist from while away the barbecue Pulled pork with coleslaw and potato salad their wait for sauce, and it’s among some of the best of its kind around. new wheels at the bar), Tennessee Grill has Brisket is thick and tender, slathered in become a popular stop for travelers and sauce and hard to share despite its gener- shoppers, in addition to its longstanding status as a neighborhood favorite in Anous proportions. All dishes are served with grilled and them. Those sublime, smoky barbecue smells lightly buttered dinner rolls. Some sides are stars in their own rites. Potato salad are enough to draw us back. – mayonnaise-dominant, as opposed to some more mustard-y varieties – is creamy The Tennessee Grill & Bar and tasty. Tater tots are crispy and hot, and 4220 W. Summit Walk Court, the baked beans are deliciously spiked with Suite 1202, Anthem green chili. 623-551-1500,

What’s Cooking?

Easy Guacamole Salsa Chicken Enchiladas BY JAN D’ATRI

Five is the magic number for this recipe: It has only five ingredients and in the “easy & delicious” category, it’s a 5-star. So this is my gift to you this holiday – the gift of simplicity. This Guacamole Salsa Chicken Enchilada Casserole could be a new go-to favorite because one jar of a store-bought savory sauce does pretty much all the work! Herdez Guacamole Salsa is one of the newest products in the Herdez family of salsas, and I’m happy to have stumbled upon it because of this recipe. You may have seen it on grocery store shelves and wondered what to do with it. This enchilada recipe is the perfect place to start. The guacamole salsa is a rich and

Guacamole Salsa Chicken Enchiladas Ingredients: - 1 package (8) corn tortillas - 1 (15.7 oz) jar Herdez Guacamole Salsa - 1 cup half and half - 1 cooked rotisserie chicken - 1 (12 oz.) package cheddar cheese or Mexican blend Directions: Remove all skin and bones from rotisserie chicken. With your hands, tear off chicken into strips. In an 8-inch skillet or saucepan, heat Herdez Guacamole Salsa and cream, stirring to combine. Dredge both sides of a tortilla in the warm salsa, then place in a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish. Fill the lower third of the tortilla with a few strips of chicken and about 2 tablespoons of cheese. Roll up tortilla. Repeat with remaining tortillas, chicken and cheese to fill up casserole dish. Pour the remainder of the salsa over the enchiladas. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over top. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. To get a goldenbrown top, turn on broiler mode of oven

Photo courtesy Jan D’Atri

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Want to make your tortillas from scratch? Try this easy recipe! Homemade Corn Tortillas Ingredients: - 1 cup corn meal - 1 cup flour - 1 egg - 2 cups water - 1/4 teaspoon salt Directions: In a bowl, whisk together corn meal, flour, egg, water and salt. (Batter should be consistency of thin pancake batter. Add more water if needed.) Heat a small amount of oil or cooking spray in a small cast iron skillet or crêpe pan. With a ladle measuring cup, pour a thin layer of batter in pan to make a 6-inch tortilla. When tortilla forms bubbles, flip and cook for about 30 seconds. Put on plate and cover with towel to keep warm. Repeat until batter is used up.

Watch my how-to video for Guacamole Salsa Enchiladas here:

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Aging Today

Dr. Google BY BOB ROTH

Managing Partner of Cypress Homecare Solutions

The information superhighway turbocharged with my smartphone has made me a jack of many trades. Chef extraordinaire, plumbing expert and political pundit were among the many hats I have worn this past month, much to my family’s delight and dismay. Thinking back to my college experience, I could never have imagined the abundance of information at my fingertips in seconds without having stepped foot into a library. In this reality of instant information, the world is your oyster! However, if your oyster consumption precedes a hepatitis diagnosis, there is an important caveat which begs you to slow down and proceed with caution when asking “Dr. Google.”

Let’s be real, who hasn’t Googled symptoms? It comes in pretty handy when Auntie Ida Know tells you to put butter on that kitchen burn. Tens of millions of internet inquiries a day are symptom-related. If you have consulted Dr. Google, you know that health content on the web can be hard to decipher. Vague symptoms such as headache and fatigue can easily lead to conclusion leaps of unlikely conditions, causing agitation and stress. A new term, cyberchondria, is used to describe those who suffer from this self-inflicted anxiety. Even Google makes a point to warn its search engine users that medical-related data on the web is “intended for informational purposes only and you


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should always consult a doctor.” Then there are those who search the internet after receiving sobering news. If you are facing a serious medical diagnosis and are feeling underinformed and overwhelmed, you are not alone. But please know that heading full throttle into the internet abyss fueled by panic and fear can certainly do more harm than good. First, get the exact medical terminology of the diagnosis you are facing. Don’t feel too intimidated to ask the physician to spell it out for you, and read it back to the physician to confirm accuracy. Inform the physician that you will be researching this condition on your own and ask for their recommendation on where to begin. In your search, include as many descriptive words as possible that relate to your specific condition. For example, instead of searching “breast cancer,” search “triple negative breast cancer.” It is even better to add other descriptive terms that are unique to you, such as “postmenopausal,” “no family history,” “healthy” and your age. Every time you add more descriptors, it will narrow down the number of links associated with your query, which can be more relative to your diagnosis. The frustration associated with internet searches is that you will find both up-tothe-minute and outdated, archived content. Be mindful of that and look for dates of the findings, if possible. It is imperative to view information through a somewhat skeptical lens. As much as we want to believe what we read, the internet in general and medical information posted there is not a commercialfree zone. Advertisements pop up even before you click a link. As I was researching for this piece, I put “CLL” in a search window to see what would

come up for chronic lymphocytic leukemia. The very first link was information that was supplied by a pharmaceutical manufacturer. It was a paid advertisement. I know that because it had the word “Ad” surrounded by a rectangle beside the link. This information is not necessarily biased. There are rigorous standards for drugs to get to market and be approved for specific indications. As a consumer, you should know who is supplying this information. Remember: Anyone can post to the internet and scams are everywhere, and unfortunately, they prey upon those most vulnerable. Our older adult population, which is new to searching online, may have difficulty deciphering whether sites are credible or not. Just because a medically oriented website looks impressive does not mean it is backed by health care professionals. Scammers know that many who search for health-related information are scared and sometimes desperate. I highly recommend the book The WebSavvy Patient: An Insider’s Guide to Navigating the Internet When Facing Medical Crisis by Andrew Schorr and Mary Adam Thomas. It is a comprehensive guide to becoming an empowered advocate for your own health and the health of your loved ones. When I ponder the technological advances that have happened in my lifetime, I am blown away by the bipolarity of my own feelings. The connectivity that my children have grown up with are blessings and curses of biblical proportions. In this world, we have scholarly articles and medical scams on the same web page. It is a world where we are never bored and seldom creative. Knowledge is power. Dr. Google’s orders: Use the internet with the guidance of your physician and not in place of sound medical advice.

Hospice Is Hope

Light Up a Life helps people cope with grief over the holidays BY LIN SUE COONEY I recently shared a bittersweet experience with hundreds of strangers in a city park. We didn’t know each other, but it didn’t matter. We were all there for the same heartfelt reason – to honor someone we love who isn’t here anymore. For 20-plus years now, Hospice of the Valley has welcomed families to a huge community remembrance event. It’s called Light Up a Life, and 1,500 people came to Light Up a Life in November, gathering at Steele Indian School Park just after sunset. They watched a beautiful photographic tribute of their loved ones set to music and projected against the night sky on giant screens. They nibbled cookies and sipped hot cocoa. They laughed. They cried. They remembered. It’s the remembering part that’s so hard. Especially if the loss was recent. This article is for you – because ready or

not, the holiday season is here. Those happy memories brushing up against you may come with piercing moments of heartache. It will be the first time that someone besides dad carves the turkey. The first time mom isn’t there to add an extra dollop of butter that’s not in the recipe. The first time someone’s stocking is missing from the mantle. It may also be the first time you’re too overwhelmed to put up a tree, prepare a big dinner, or brave shopping malls blaring happy music and bustling with people. So don’t. Grief experts say it’s perfectly normal to scale back when you’re grieving. Just because you lay aside cherished traditions this time doesn’t mean they’re gone forever. You can choose to celebrate the holidays on a smaller scale this year. And maybe even create a new family tradition. “A lovely way to honor someone,” says Hospice of the Valley bereavement counselor Joyce Vidal Thornburg, “is to come up

with a way to celebrate who they were.” One idea is to ask each family member to write a note to, from or about your loved one – then put Hospice of the Valley’s Light Up a Life event celebrated the lives of lost loved ones at Steele Indian School Park in November. (Photo by Dave Siebert) them in a place where everyone can take time to read grief-support/grief-support-groups. Most of all, remember that people who them. “And be kind to yourself,” Vidal Thorn- love you will understand your sadness, burg advises. “You’d be gentle with a friend and many of them are good listeners who who was grieving – why wouldn’t you give would be honored to support you as long as it takes. Give them this joy! yourself the same compassion?” “Let yourself experience the pain and If you’re really struggling, consider attending one of Hospice of the Valley’s tears and have faith that you will get community grief support groups offered through this,” says Hospice of the Valley Valleywide at no charge. Times and loca- bereavement manager Mara Goebel. “Do tions can be found here: whatever you can, and let it be enough.”

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The Healthy Geezer

Secrets to a good night’s sleep BY FRED CICETTI

Question: I have found that I don’t sleep as well as I used to when I was younger. How common is this?

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beverage and a few crackers may help. Don’t drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes to help you sleep. Even small amounts of alcohol can make it harder to stay asleep. Smoking is dangerous for many reasons, including the hazard of falling asleep with a lit cigarette. Also, the nicotine in cigarettes is a stimulant. Create a safe and comfortable place to sleep. Make sure there are locks on all doors and smoke alarms on each floor. A lamp that’s easy to turn on and a phone by your bed may be helpful. The room should be dark, well ventilated, and as quiet as possible. Develop a bedtime routine. Do the same things each night to tell your body that it’s time to wind down. Some people watch the evening news, read a book or soak in a warm bath. Use your bedroom for sleeping, not daytime activities. After turning off the light, give yourself about 15 minutes to fall asleep. If you are still awake and not drowsy, get out of bed. When you get sleepy, go back to bed. Try not to worry about your sleep. Some people find that playing mental games is helpful. For example, tell yourself it’s five minutes before you have to get up and you’re just trying to get a few extra winks. If you are so tired during the day that you cannot function normally and if this lasts for more than two to three weeks, you should see your family doctor or a sleep disorders specialist.

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Many people believe that poor sleep is a normal part of aging, but it is not. Sleep patterns change as we age, but disturbed sleep and waking up tired every day are not part of normal aging. Seniors need about the same amount of sleep as younger adults – seven to nine hours a night. Unfortunately, many older adults don’t get the sleep they need because they often have more trouble falling asleep. A study of adults over 65 found that 13 percent of men and 36 percent of women take more than 30 minutes to fall asleep. Also, older people often sleep less deeply and wake up more often throughout the night, which may be why they nap more often during the daytime.  Nighttime sleep schedules may change with age, too. Many older adults tend to get sleepier earlier in the evening and awaken earlier in the morning. Here are some pointers to help you get better sleep: Go to sleep and wake up at the same time, even on weekends. Sticking to a regular bed time and wake time schedule helps keep you in sync with your body’s circadian clock, a 24hour internal rhythm affected by sunlight. Try not to nap too much during the day – you might be less sleepy at night. Try to exercise at regular times each day. Exercising regularly improves the quality of your nighttime sleep and helps you sleep more soundly. Try to finish your workout at least three hours before bedtime. Try to get some natural light in the afternoon each day. Be careful about what you eat. Don’t drink beverages with caffeine late in the day. Caffeine is a stimulant and can keep you awake. Also, if you like a snack before bed, a warm


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A Fairy Duster for a Magical Season

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The Baja Fairy Duster plant provides a pop of color to winter gardens. (Photo by Tom McDonald)

Sonoran Desert gardeners are always on the lookout for plants that provide color in the winter season. Top on my list is the Baja Fairy Duster, Calliandra californica. The bright red, mimosa-like flowers do indeed look like miniature “dusters” and serve to attract hummingbirds and other pollinators. Growing to a height and width of five feet, this Baja native is great around pools due to relative low litter production. A smaller variety native to the Sonoran desert is Calliandra eriophylla, also known as Angel’s Hair. This plant produces pink flowers intermittently year-round with adequate moisture and is a common sight on local trails. Other plants that produce reliable winter color:

• Aloe • Bulbine • Eremophila species • Justica candicans • Mount Lemmon marigold • Angelita daisy • Salvia greggii So look to these plants to add the magic of color to your landscape and look to Smiling Dog Landscapes for other gardening tips! Smiling Dog Landscapes creates

able outdoor living spaces that impart peace of mind, serenity and happiness for the residents of the Sonoran Desert. We accomplish this work by listening to our clients, educating them as to what is possible, then turning their dreams into realities. Launched in 2000, Smiling Dog Landscapes focuses on providing quality landscape design and installation. Owner Tom McDonald opens the Smiling Dog gardens to prospective clients, allowing them to learn and appreciate the types of plants that do well in the Sonoran Desert environment.  Through the Smiling Dog Learning Center, the company offers free classes to the public on all aspects of gardening in the far East Valley. McDonald brings a wealth of expertise to his clients. He obtained his degree in biology and education from Drury College in Missouri. He is a certified Master Gardener through the University of Arizona program and has studied and completed programs in permaculture design and rainwater harvesting. A past president for the Superstition Area Land Trust, McDonald can often be found leading walks as a volunteer at Boyce Thompson Arboretum. For more information on services offered by Smiling Dog Landscapes, as well as our class schedule, go to smilingdoglandscapes. com.

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DRAWER LL1348 Looking for Good Friend 65-80 N/S, N/D. Please include picture and phone number. DRAWER LL1354 If you wish to kiss the New Year in, here I am. I am From the East Coast live in Sun City. WWF. I am a fun loving woman that enjoys life. If you feel the same, drop me a line too. NS DRAWER LL1584

Football season is here. Looking for a cute, fun, fairly fit football fan to watch games with an attractive, fit, fun guy - SWM 66. DRAWER LL1662 HELLO LADIES, THIS SINGLE WHITE MALE, IS LOOKING FOR HIS SOULMATE, ARE YOU THE ONE FOR ME? I'M 70 YO NS ND. LETS GET TOGETHER, AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS FRIENDSHIP AD ABBREVIATION KEY SWM = Single White Male SWF = Single White Female SHM = Single Hispanic Male SHF = Single Hispanic Female WWM = White Widowed Male WWF = White Widowed Female

ISO = In Search Of

LTR = Long Term Relationship

N/S = Non-Smoking N/D = Non-Drinking

DRAWER LL1658 WWF 85 Looking for a friend to talk to. I live in Prescott Valley. Don't smoke or drink, like to hear from you. Send phone number DRAWER LL1657 WWF, N/S, N/D, age 74, looking for friendship via penpals. Does anyone know how to write cursive? Likes: archery, art, crafts, dogs, Elvis, reading, etc.

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T HE F INISH L INE Arizona’s Leader in Senior Fitness Arizona Senior Olympics coming in February Four great weeks! 30 different sports! 31 days of excitement! Don’t miss your chance to be a part of the Arizona Senior Olympic Games in February of 2019. It will change your life! You’ll make friends who will encourage you and cheer you on! Register before December 15 and get a $7 discount.

There is still time to train and get ready to play with other seniors. Call the Arizona Senior Olympics office for advice on getting started. For more information, call 602274-7742, Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or visit


For more information, call 623-933-4683

Yes, I would like to be a friend of Arizona Senior Olympics.

Send your tax-deductible contribution by check, money order, credit card or go online to

$$ AMOUNT ENCLOSED $$ I am paying by:


Dec. 5th & 12th • 10am–4pm SHORT-TERM REHAB (at LifeStream)

Be a friend, help us fund ASO!

11523 W. Peoria Avenue, Youngtown, AZ 85363

Puzzle Answers FROM PUZZLES ON PAGE 25

❑ Check/Money Order ❑ Credit Card

You will be charged by Senior Games Payment Services if paying by credit card. If paying by check, please make it out to ‘Arizona Lifelong Fitness Foundation’. Card Type: Credit Card Number: ________________________________________________ Expiration Date: ________________________ CVC Code:__________________


The 3-digit CVC code is located on back of your card.

Name on Card (as it appears): ___________________________________________ Address: __________________________________________________________ City/State/Zip: _____________________________________________________ Signature: _________________________________________________________ Email address: _____________________________________________________

Mail to: Arizona Lifelong Fitness Association P.O. Box 33278, Phoenix, AZ 85067-3278

2018 Sponsors

Arizona Senior Olympics P.O. Box 33278, Phoenix, AZ 85067-3278

602-274-7742 The Finish Line Newsletter is produced by Arizona Senior Olympics, founded by:




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Keep your Christmas Sweet! Let Your Residential and Commercial Roofing Contractor Keep Your Family Warm!

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Lovin' Life After 50: East - December 2018  
Lovin' Life After 50: East - December 2018