“Water­boys” Keeps Friend­ships Flow­ing

Bonita & Estero Magazine - - PETS - —J.L.

VI AT BENT­LEY VIL­LAGE IN NORTH NAPLES PRO­VIDES a quintessen­tial vi­gnette of the term “fam­ily friendly.’’ Res­i­dent Mike Stan­ton, 90, is a ded­i­cated helper all over cam­pus and the long­est-tenured mem­ber of the “Water­boys.” They are a team of vol­un­teers, un­der the su­per­vi­sion of a pro­fes­sional staff, who don base­ball caps and name tags to de­liver pitch­ers of ice and wa­ter daily to pa­tients at the skilled care cen­ter that is part of the cam­pus.

Their clients are glad to see them, Stan­ton says, and of­ten don’t want the Water­boys to leave. Stan­ton, a World War II and Korea mil­i­tary pi­lot, says the ex­pe­ri­ence—he has been do­ing it for 11 years—is es­pe­cially ap­pre­ci­ated by pa­tients who have no lo­cal fam­ily mem­bers. The Water­boys pro­vide a wel­come con­tact with some­one other than staff mem­bers. The Water­boys be­come like fam­ily.

That res­onates on an­other level for Stan­ton, whose wife, Ann, 82, is a res­i­dent of the skilled care cen­ter. “It’s al­ways a spe­cial mo­ment—a real treat—to be to­gether,’’ he says of vis­its to Ann’s room.

The Stan­ton fam­ily con­nec­tion goes one step fur­ther, when daugh­ter Sarah An­dre, of nearby Bonita Bay, comes to Bent­ley Vil­lage for weekly so­cial hours, for ex­am­ple. “I visit Mom each Fri­day—un­less they’re on lock­down for the flu, like the last cou­ple of weeks,” she says.

“It’s be­come the high­light of my week, not just see­ing Mom but chat­ting with the other res­i­dents and guests. They’ve all be­come like an ex­tended fam­ily to us, and the rou­tine of a Fri­day af­ter­noon visit cen­ters me some­how.’’

There is live mu­sic, singing and dancing. “It’s zany and high en­ergy and fo­cused on liv­ing and laugh­ter,’’ An­dre adds. “I was a speech pathol­o­gist who worked in nurs­ing homes for 10 years in my youth. I have never been to a care cen­ter that is this much fun and fo­cused on pos­i­tive pa­tient in­ter­ac­tion.

“We’ve even had res­i­dents from as­sisted liv­ing reg­u­larly come to the care cen­ter cock­tail hour be­cause ours is so much more fun.’’

A get-to­gether tak­ing place at The Ter­races in Bonita Mike Stan­ton, 90, has been vol­un­teer­ing with the “Water­boys” at Vi at Bent­ley Vil­lage in North Naples for 11 years. Seated by him are his daugh­ter, Sarah An­dre, and his wife, Ann.

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