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Re-Active Retirees

Senior Volunteers Up to the Task for Church and Charity

April 28, 1998|BRETT JOHNSON | Times Staff Writer

BURBANK — Whoever said age is nothing but a number could not have been more accurate, especially when describing local seventysomethings called the Unretired Renovators.

These nimble veteran helping hands congregate at First United Methodist Church every Tuesday morning to perform various odd jobs that keeps the 46-year-old facility in top condition.

The group of about 15 men stay plenty active. They paint, change lightbulbs, build risers on the church stage and even do a bit of plumbing. They keep the kitchen cupboards stocked with coffee, juice and cups for social hour between services.

"We're very proud of the Renovators," the Rev. Larry Stamper said. "We have a wish list and they take care of all the repairs on it."

But the most important duty of all is the paper collection the group takes to the Burbank Recycling Center each week. Between $40 and $100 a week is raised, depending on the fluctuating price per tonnage.

The money and another collection of canned goods are donated to the Burbank Temporary Aid Center to help the homeless.

"That paper thing gets the sweat glands going," said Bill Vote, 70, the "kid" of the group. "It loosens the arthritis right up."

Renovator leader Joe Lane, 74, said the elders have been meeting since 1977, when Bob DeJaegher organized the group as a way for male retirees to serve the church and community.

"It's something to keep us out of the pool halls," Lane said jokingly. The camaraderie is what is so special to this good-natured bunch, he said.

Like clockwork, at 10 a.m. they gather around the kitchen table, enjoy donated foods, ice cream and coffee and chat about family, friends and current events.

"It's not like we try to outdo each other, but each week our wives give good food like sweet strawberries and pumpkin pies," said Jim Lloyd, 72.

Rolly Stewart, 80, said that after brain surgery 10 years ago, he was so despondent he thought he couldn't be useful any longer. But the Renovators gave him a much needed social outlet and renewed energy, he said.

"We do little simple tasks and we get the satisfaction of helping the church, other individuals and ourselves," Stewart said.

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