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In the blink of an eye, another summer is coming to an end, which means the end of summer vacation, blistering heat and humidity, and days lounging by the pool. While there is plenty to miss about the summer season, there is certainly plenty to look forward to in the autumn months ahead. This is the time of year to embrace hearty home cooked meals and aromatic spices. It’s time to break out your favorite boots and sweaters and to cheer on your favorite football teams. But perhaps the thing people most associate (and most look forward to) about the autumn season at Milwaukee Catholic Home is the Fall Harvest Festival.  

Join us for our annual Fall Harvest Festival on Thursday, October 10th celebrating the harvest from Clare Gardensour organic farm-to-table community garden! From 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, you’ll have the chance to enjoy raffles, fresh bakery, an art gallery, pumpkins, fresh produce, honey and salsa, a delicious chili lunch, used book sale, and specialty vendors of gifts and crafts. This event is free and open to the public. 

The Fall Harvest Festival is a fun-filled day in celebration of fall, the harvest season and our Milwaukee Catholic Home community. Our residents help make the fresh salsa (with the produce from Clare Gardens), spiced pecans, and fresh bakery. They volunteer on the day of the festival, working at the different venues and greeting and welcoming our guests. Our dining services makes the delicious chili lunch, a bargain at $10.00 for the chili, baked potato and all the fixings and a beverage! Quarts of “chili to go” are also an option for those times when you don’t feel like cooking or don’t have the time. Staff are involved alongside the residents, and you can feel the true spirit of community that is so alive and well here at Milwaukee Catholic Home! 

“At Milwaukee Catholic Home, we emphasize whole person wellness, and healthy eating is a significant part of that,” said MCH CEO Dave Fulcher. “The Fall Harvest Festival is a great way for our residents and for those in our community to reap the many benefits of the Clare Gardens project.”  

Although another summer has come and gone, there is so much to look forward to about the autumn months ahead, including Milwaukee Catholic Home’s Fall Harvest Festival. For more information on this signature event, contact Amy O’Connor at aoconnor@milwaukeecatholichome.org or 414.220.3214. 

It’s a little bit scary just how talented Milwaukee Catholic Home resident Paul Salsini is, as he proves with his latest novel, “The Ghosts of the Garfagnana: Seven Strange Stories from Haunted Tuscany.”

Salsini’s book focuses on the strange and other-worldly things that have been known to happen in Garfagnana, a rugged region in the heart of Italy. Still undiscovered by floods of tourists, this northwest corner of Tuscany is known for its vast landscapes, soaring mountains, rippling streams, and tiny villages, villages that seem to be frozen in time. It is also here that unknown, mysterious things have been known to take place. These eerie sightings have been known to include a friendly ghost who resides in a monastery, a soldier who died in a brutal battle, and a troupe of passed souls who make their presence known in a local theater.  

That’s where Paul Salsini comes into the picture. In “The Ghosts of Garfagnana: Seven Strange Stories from Haunted Tuscany,” he beautifully illustrates how these stories not only span centuries but are all interconnected to each other, all of course with a spooky twist. Salsini’s unique voice and perspective has long been praised by many; the Italian Tribune has been most recent to compliment him; “The author’s easy and engaging style instantly grabs the reader and his story lines consistently make for enjoyable page turners, equally suited for cold, stormy nights and hot summer days.”  

This is not the first time Paul’s writing has been published. He is also the writer of “The Cielo: A Novel of Wartime Tuscany,” “Sparrow’s Revenge, A Novel of Postwar Tuscany,” “The Temptation of Father Lorenzo: Ten Stories of 1970s Tuscany,” and “The Fearless Flag Thrower of Lucca: Nine Stories of 1990s Tuscany.” 

Paul Salsini has lived at Milwaukee Catholic Home with his wife Barbara since 2011.  He is a veteran Milwaukee journalist, having vast experience as a reporter, state editor, and staff development director at the Milwaukee Journal. Paul currently teaches in the Diedrich College of Communications at Marquette University.  

Purchase your copy of “The Ghosts of Garfagnana: Seven Strange Stories from Haunted Tuscany” here!  

The television network Bravo is known for its entertaining array of programming. While everyone might not gravitate towards offerings such as “The Real Housewives”, “Southern Charm”, or “Below Deck” (or, for that matter, be able to summarize what these shows are about), “Top Chef” is a Bravo show that everyone can get behind.  

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of viewing an episode, each season centers around 15 chefs migrating to a city in the United States that is known for its unique culinary scene. Then, week by week, the chefs are presented with unique challenges that display their skills in the kitchen, as they compete for the illusive title of “Top Chef.”  

Now, imagine if the magic of this engaging Bravo reality show were brought to Milwaukee’s Prospect Avenue? Well, imagine no more, because this September, Milwaukee Catholic Home is hosting its own spin on this television favorite. Mark your calendars for Thursday, September 26th at 4:30 pm for MCH Top Chef.

On that afternoon, the expert chefs of MCH are ready to bring you their very best, just as they would if they were in front of the Bravo TV cameras! We invite you to come and enjoy a wonderful array of appetizers, wine, and beer, prepared fresh for you by your MCH chefs. You’ll even get the chance to take on the roll of judge as you vote for your favorite and see who will be awarded the honor of MCH Top Chef. 

One thing that all competitors are encouraged to do during MCH Top Chef is to use ingredients from Clare Gardens. Since its inception in the spring of 2015, Clare Gardens has succeeded in bringing fresh, local produce to our residents and partners and creating a place of experiential engagement both for residents and the broader community. Additionally, this program enables our chefs (aka, the cutthroat competitors in MCH Top Chef) to explore creative, healthy, and diverse menus daily.  

We and all our Top Chef participants look forward to seeing you on September 26th! Be sure to bring your appetite.  

 

-from Merridith Frediani

“I’d rather knit than eat,” said Trudy Klapperich, who at 105 years is the oldest resident at the Milwaukee Catholic Home. She was ten years old when her mother taught her to knit and though there were stops and starts over the years, it remains her favorite way to pass the time. When life became busy she would stop, and “start in again when there is pressure. It’s so relaxing,” she said. Knitting is hard on her hands but that hasn’t stopped her; she took up crochet to replace it. “I would have gone mad if I came here and just sat,” she said. She thanks her father for instilling a strong work ethic in her. She learned to crochet through trial and error and with patterns her daughter, also a knitter, sent her.

She has much to show for her efforts. In the three weeks she has been in the health center, she has amassed a pile of hats that she gives to her nephew, Fr. Francis Dumbrowski who in turn gives them to the needy. In addition to hats, she makes baby slippers and sweaters, although sweaters “get a little boring,” she said. She likes to create something and see it finished. “Hats are perfect for me.”

When asked the secret of her long and good life, she said she dedicated herself to Christ when she was fifty-nine years old. She was attending a prayer meeting with women in her neighborhood. “I was looking for something. You get a hunger if God touches you. I noticed God giving me gifts, little touches. I continued to search for more and a friend drew me in,” she said.

Trudy has lived in Milwaukee for all but fourteen years when she lived in the Phoenix area. One of her daughters still lives there but her other two children remain in Milwaukee. She is close to her son because of many common interests. He bought her a comfortable recliner chair where she sits as she creates her crochet hats.

She grew up with one brother and two sisters on the west side of Milwaukee. Her father was an alcoholic which made home life a challenge and her mother died at fifty-two after a twenty year battle with cancer. She learned to think positively but it was hard. “ I always had God in the back of my mind. He knew I was trying,” she said.

She had a “terrific” job working a teletype machine taking orders for gears for ships and preparing them for the shop workers. She worked for almost five years and remembers being treated very well.

“The doctor was the last place I’d go,” she said of times when she was sick. She used home remedies for many illnesses and recommends baking soda and lemon juice for heartburn. When asked what has surprised her most during her life span, Trudy turned to politics and a reminder that it is important for all of us to stay informed.

She has a deep appreciation for nature and sees God’s touch in it. A picture of an ant carrying a leaf with another ant on top reminds her of God’s awesomeness. Trudy’s faith is the anchor of her life. “I don’t hunger for things in the world anymore,” she said. She is grateful for the wisdom she has received from the Lord. “God doesn’t give out wisdom unless he thinks it’s productive,” she said. “He does give wisdom when you ask. He has done it for me many times.” She credits his intervention when, one day, she wanted to say something sharp but he intervened to soften it. “Sometimes we are not aware of what God puts in our mouth.” She reminds us that “God demands a lot for all the good he gives.”

Despite some fuzzy details, which she jokes about, Trudy is a vibrant, faithful woman. She likes being at the Milwaukee Catholic Home especially when they bring her a banana she wasn’t expecting. She enjoys staying connected with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren in addition to her own children.

“It was all good,” she said. “My whole adult life was good.”

 

-from Kristen Kubisiak, Catholic Herald staff

For Bernard “BJ” Bythell, there is nothing inherently special about March 1. It’s not a holiday, a birthday, or any other festive occasion. All the same, on March 1 he discovered a large, yellow greeting card-sized envelope in his mailbox.Settled into a recliner in his apartment at Milwaukee Catholic Home, a continuing care retirement community, he held up
the card as if it was evidence. “This is what I am talking about,” he said.

Bythell has experienced a lot in his life. He was married for 68 years (his wife Kathryn died in 2014) and he is a father, grandfather and great-grandfather– multiple times over; he served the country as a World War II Army veteran; and he spent decades working as a buyer for grocery and hardware stores. 

But this January, something happened that he couldn’t explain. Intermingled with the perfunctory bills and glossy advertisements he had come to expect in his daily mail were brightly colored envelopes. The first one showed up on January 5, and they haven’t stopped coming since. 

“Birthday cards,” Bythell said. At first he thought it might be a joke; his birthday isn’t until April 13.

But the baffling phenomenon showed no sign of slowing, and, in fact, has gone digital. 

“I started getting emails, Facebook messages, phone calls,” he said.

Bythell began to suspect this was a coordinated effort. But he had no idea how or why.  Then someone let the cat out of the bag.

“Last fall, I was just working on my calendar  for 2019 and I realized Dad’s 99th birthday was coming up,” said Barbara Bythell, BJ’s fourth and youngest daughter. “I was trying to think of a special way to honor him…then it just kind of came to me.”  

Barbara ran the idea by her siblings, Jean, Carol, Diane and Bob. Then she reached out to other family members and friends, Catholic Home employees, neighbors – anyone she could think of who knew her father and had been touched by his life in some way – and asked them if they would like to send him a message on one of the 99 days leading up to his 99th birthday. The response was overwhelming.

“It’s a little embarrassing,” BJ Bythell said, but he noted he enjoys reading the cards. A couple in particular make his eyes light up.

“I really like this one,” he said. The card he identifies-which has a bottle of liquor and a glass containing what appears to be a cocktail – is one of more than a dozen displayed on his walls, along with framed photos of family and friends. “It says, “Like a fine Scotch, you get better with age.” 

Another favorite is a musical popup card with a 3D dog in the middle. On his Facebook page, he has a video of two of his great-grandchildren who live in Illinois, Lulu and Freddie, sitting at a table singing happy birthday. All of his children live out of state, with the exception of Barbara, who resides in Riverwest – so many of his cards have postmarks from locations across the country. The card that traveled the farthest distance to reach him – so far –was from Seattle. The nearest traveling card came from his next-door neighbor.

“It’s been a great couple of months,” BJ said, though he maintains he’s not worth all the fuss.

Barbara hinted a few more surprises may be on the horizon for her father. In the meantime, what she has dubbed, “The 99 Days of BJ” is in full-effect. 

On behalf of the Catholic Herald, happy birthday BJ.

 

 

 

Gloria Armstrong, beloved member of the Health Care Center kitchen staff, recently celebrated 40 years of dedicated service at Milwaukee Catholic Home!

It is hard to imagine how many meals she has prepared for residents and staff during her tenure, and it’s equally hard to imagine Milwaukee Catholic Home without her infectious smile!

Her loyalty and commitment to the MCH mission is truly inspiring, and we were honored to sit down with her and discuss her nearly half a century of experience.

Q: Tell me about your role here and what a typical day looks like for you?

A: A typical day here means two things: it means arriving early so I can be sure to get all of my work done, and it means that it’s going to be a good day. Every day working at Milwaukee Catholic Home is a good one-I just love all of the residents and staff here!

Q: In what ways has your position evolved in the last 40 years?

A: My position has changed a lot in the last forty years. When I first began at age 30, my starting pay was $3.10 an hour, which was a pay cut from $4.00 an hour from my previous position! Back then, I was mainly a food service aide, but today, my main role here is as a short-order cook. Being a cook has been so rewarding, because I have learned how to make quite a few things over the years!

Q: Are there any particular things you enjoy making the most for residents and staff?

A: I love making desserts the best—and that’s what the residents seem to enjoy the most too!

Q: What is your favorite part about coming to work every day?

A: It’s always wonderful to see all of the friendly faces here. I am happy to say that I really do get along with everyone here, and that there is a great sense of teamwork here at Milwaukee Catholic Home.

Q: What is it that has motivated you these past forty years to continue to be part of the MCH mission?

A: It has never been in my nature to frequently change jobs, so staying in one place for so long, where you know all the systems and practices, has been really great for me. Plus, there’s too much to enjoy here, so I’ve never had a compelling reason to leave.

Q: How would you describe Milwaukee Catholic Home to those who are unfamiliar with it?

A: I’ve always said that Milwaukee Catholic Home is a beautiful place. It’s something in the atmosphere that I have felt ever since I first started, and I’ve liked it every day for the past forty years.

Q: When you aren’t at work, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

A: My three children, 14 grandchildren, and 28 great grandchildren sure do keep me busy! Other than that, I love coming home after work and relaxing by listening to some of my favorite Blues music.

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