APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - "It's not exactly the traditional love story of Valentine's, but this story is absolutely filled with love on many many levels," Barb Pandolfo, executive sirector of Touchmark in Appleton, says about a celebration at the senior living facility on Valentine's Day.
It all started about five years ago when Helen Armstrong, who turned 100 years old, moved into Touchmark. The community has embraced her as one of their own.
And on her 100th birthday, they hosted a hoedown.
"Everybody has the hats and the bandanas, and it really is a tribute to Helen and one of her very dear loves and that's horses and riding, and so it's jut a great way to honor her," says Pandolfo.
Like all of the residents who live at Touchmark, the staff considers Helen family.
According to custodian Deb Doyen, "Grandma, she's the life of this community. I mean, every day, you come in and you see her, it just brightens up your day."
Knowing her mom is being cared for and loved by this community helped Lynn Barrett, Helen's daughter, make the decision to leave her mom at Touchmark despite the fact she and her husband were retiring and moving to Indiana.
"She knew the people here and at her stage of dementia, that I think was very important. And these people, I mean everybody, they're so good to her and they're her family," says Barrett.
So it was only fitting that Helen's Touchmark family celebrated her milestone, because as her daughter believes, it's this adopted family and community that is keeping her mom a hundred years young.
Barrett adds, "They're very good to her. She wouldn't be like this, I don't think if she lived any place else."