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Outreach brings seniors to Greensburg Art Center

| Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013, 8:41 p.m.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Redstone Highlands resident Mary Trimble (left) and her daughter, Sharon Beattie of Wilkins Township, work together on an art project at the Greensburg Art Center in Hempfield on Tuesday.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Redstone Highlands resident Joyce Adams gets some assistance from Redstone Highlands activities director Paula Hawthorne of Monroeville on an art project.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Redstone Highlands resident Carol Pollock (left) and Greensburg Art Center member Rosemary Sovyak (middle) of Greensburg work together.

For an artist such as Carol Pollock, decorating the cover of a photo album with colorful glass beads at the Greensburg Art Center in Hempfield was pretty easy stuff.

“I've got a bunch of photos to put in here,” said Pollock, a resident of Redstone Highlands, an assisted living community in Greensburg.

Pollock, a former Unity resident and former director of a gallery at St. Vincent College in Unity, was joined by 12 of her fellow Redstone Highlands residents on Monday, decorating the covers of photo albums at the center, a former red-brick, two-room schoolhouse.

The initiative to bring senior citizens to the arts center on Todd School Road is funded by a $20,000 Arts Engagement in American Communities grant under the National Endowment for the Arts, said Renie Pollock of Unity, president of the Greensburg Art Center and daughter-in-law of Carol Pollock.

The Robertshaw Charitable Foundation in Greensburg contributed $1,000 for supplies for the program for the senior citizens, Renie Pollock said.

The program gives the residents more than just the opportunity to create a photo album to hold 4-by-6-inch pictures, said Lisa Szalanczy, director of Redstone Highlands' dementia unit.

“We get them out with the people,” Szalanczy said.

The Greensburg Art Center has been offering the weekly art programs for senior citizens since July 22, and it is scheduled to continue until Sept. 27.

Other programs have featured paints and plants, stencils and stamp stationery, door decors, posed portraits, nature prints on wood and marbleized hand fans. Upcoming sessions include making refrigerator magnets, decorative pillows and glass mosaic candle holders.

Renie Pollock said they sent invitations to about 45 nursing homes to take advantage of the 16 sessions.

Nursing homes from Greensburg, Hempfield and Murrysville have taken advantage of the opportunity to bring their residents to the art center.

The federal grant funds the sessions, paying for the small photo albums and the supplies senior citizens use to decorate the albums that will hold precious memories for the recipients. It also paid to lay asphalt on a gravel parking area in front of the old schoolhouse, thus making it safer and more accessible to seniors who have difficulty walking, Pollock said.

It's the second consecutive year that the Greensburg Art Center has received the invitational grant, and it already is approved for a $20,000 grant for a third year, Pollock said.

“We want to expand the program and have more dates” next year, Pollock said.

The nursing homes and assisted living communities provide staff to help the senior citizens and the art center has four to six assistants helping the seniors, Pollock said.

Another Redstone Highlands resident, Joyce Adams of Plum, was decorating the photo album for a grandchild, she said.

Sharon Beattie of Wilkins Township, Allegheny County, did double duty helping both her mother, Mary Trimble, and her father, Malcolm Trimble, decorate their album covers.

Her mother had shamrocks on her photo album and her father had brown stones that signified the family's traditional vacation spot near Lake Erie in Ohio, Beattie said.

The couple, who lived in Forest Hills before moving to Redstone Highlands a dozen years ago, will celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary in two weeks, Beattie said.

Trimble and her husband, Malcolm, both of whom are in their 90s, can put the photo albums to good use because they have a lot of family photos with five children, a contingent of grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

“They have a lot of pictures floating around the apartment and they need a home,” Beattie said.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or