UP Catholic 11 17 2017 E Edition Page 5

BY ANGELA JOHNSON THE U.P. CATHOLIC A retired Chicago business man accustomed to working 12-hour days, six days a week has found the peace and joy he longed for by spending his free time in the quiet kitchens of the elderly in Calumet listening to the life stories, laughing with and pray- ing with men and women who would otherwise be alone. Dave Geisler, a member of Calu- mets St. Paul the Apostle Parish, says his Catholic faith has always been a very important part of his life. He used to leave his corporate job in downtown Chicago to attend the 5:15 daily Mass, then go back to work. But now that he is retired in the Keween- aw Peninsula and volunteers for the Little Brothers-Friends of the Elder- ly organization, he sees that faith becomes even more important as people age. I have an even greater apprecia- tion when I see the peace and joy that the faith brings to the elderly-thats what I want for myself, he said. Geisler serves as a medical trans- port for the Upper Michigan Chap- ter of Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly, a national network of non-profit volun- teer-based organi- zations working to relieve the burden of isolation and loneli- ness among the elder- ly. The U.P. Chapter began in Houghton County in 1982 under the direction of Mike Aten. Aten and his wife Cathy, the current executive director, are parishioners of St. Anne Parish in Chassell. What started as informal dinners, home visits and firewood deliveries has since extended to five counties in the western U.P. including Hough- ton, Keweenaw, Baraga, Ontonagon, and is now expanding services in Marquette. Each year 1,100 elderly friends receive service from as many as 1,100 volunteers. Free services in- clude: friendship and social support such as holiday parties at Thanks- giving, Christmas and Easter, as well as other times throughout the year; medical transports to appoint- ments and other errands, and irewood needed for heat. The U.P. is an aging popu- lation, said Cathy Aten. With our rural demographic, people are more isolated geographical- ly. Sometimes, our elderly are forgotten. Little Brothers is all about creating relationships, she said. We all need relation- ships throughout our whole lives. Geisler has been a Little Brothers volunteer since re- locating to Calumet in 2011. To the people we serve, this is more than a doctor appoint- ment - it is a social outing, he said. Recently while delivering a repaired hearing aid to a client, Geisler said he stayed to visit and help peel apples so that his friend could bake a pie. Offering trips to Walmart, lunch out and rides to Sunday Mass are part of his regular routine. My reward is that Barb makes the best chocolate chip cookies in the whole wide world! he said. When people have asked Geisler if spending time with those nearing the end of life is depressing, he assures them: It is just the oppo- site. These people are so full of life. I genuinely enjoy it. I get as much, if not more, out of these relationships as the people I serve. He urges others with free time in their retirement years to explore similar ministries in their area. Someday, we are all going to need these services, he said adding that many people do not have relatives living nearby and someone needs to be there to help them. I am retired. I have the time, he said. Listening to the stories of the elderly and enjoying their homemade treats re- minds people of their continued self-worth, he said. Conversa- tions often turn to matters of faith and even of the after-life and Geisler said he and his elderly friends laugh together, pray together and have a great time. This is a true Christian ministry, he said. To learn more about Little Broth- ers-Friends of the Elderly and how to get involved, visit, https://houghton. littlebrothers.org or call (906) 482- 6944. Also, see the envelope inserted into todays The U.P. Catholic. This series of articles aims to high- light the unique ways people in their senior years are living and sharing the Catholic faith. To make sugges- tions for future articles, email Angela Johnson at ajohnson496@charter.net. www.upcatholic.org THE U.P. CATHOLIC SENIOR STORIES November 17, 2017 5 Attention: Parishes, Catholic Schools, Businesses and Non-Profit Organizations! Please join the U.P. Catholic Newspaper in celebrating the 25th Jubilee of Bishop Emeritus James H. Garland's Installation as our 11th Bishop of the Diocese of Marquette Contact Deacon Steve: upc@new.rr.com - (906) 863-7460 HURRY, Our ad cut-offis Nov. 20th! Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly provides aid to elderly in the Upper Peninsula PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVE GEISLER Dave Geisler, a volunteer with Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly, visits with Pat Burgess and her dog Sandy, on her birthday. Burgess is just one of the more than 1,000 elderly friends that receive services from the group of volunteers. Cathy Aten Visit Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly online at: https://houghton.littlebrothers.org

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