Next to the guys and gals who actually work at the happiest place in the Central Highlands, the YEI! Marketing Team thinks they’ve got it pretty special, too. What could be better? They often take field trips to visit the various locations that YEI! maintains. This time, on a beautiful day in early summer, the Team visited Antelope Point at Eastridge (AP@E) and caught up with James (Jim), Ted and Mary Ellen Oliver, who shared parts of their story with us, and let us in on a few of their secrets to the Fountain of Youth.
Joining us here today are Executive Director of YEI! Brad Newman, Employment Coordinator/Case Manager, Erika Teolis, and guests of honor: James Oliver, Ted Oliver and their caregiver sister, Mary Ellen Oliver. It’s great to be here and to talk to you all today! How’s everyone doing?
Mary Ellen: We’re all doing fine. You know, Ted will be 86 in December, and Jim will be 84 in May.
They both book so young! We should all be so lucky to have no wrinkles at that age! Erika, do you remember when Ted and Jim first came here to YEI!?
Erika: I do, it was 13 and a half years ago that they came here.
Jim: I remember the first day with Erika T.!
Do you remember when you started at YEI!?
Jim: That was a long time ago.
Mary Ellen: Both Ted and Jim lived in Long Beach with our mom who was 93 before they came here.
What brought everyone to Arizona?
Mary Ellen: I had a niece who lived in Phoenix, and I moved from Portland to Phoenix, and was there for almost a year before I met my husband who worked in Prescott. I later moved to Prescott and as mom was getting older, we always knew that Ted and Jim would come with us kids. Ted is the oldest, he’s 18 years older than I am. Jim is 16 years older than I am, and we have another brother who is 12 years older than I am. I’m the youngest.
Brad: Around here, these guys are known as the Arizona Brothers, AZBROS, for short! They’re always talking about YEI! being Number One! We’ve moved into this new building since they started coming here, though.
Do you guys like the old building better?
Jim and Ted in unison: “No!”
Jim: This place is better than the one back there!
Ted: I like this place better!
What types of jobs do you do here?
Jim: I put inserts into books!
What activities and games do you play on the TV?
Jim: I watch The Newlywed Game!
What other activities do you do here?
Jim: I went to graduation. There were 13 seats on the sidewalk and we sat there. I go to movies with Michelle. I took dancing lessons.
Brad: That's why we have a wood floor!
Ted: I go to Samaritan Village, and they love me there.
Jim: I sing loud! I like to do-si-do!
What is your favorite song?
[At this point in the interview, everyone was graciously awarded with an emotional, flawless and robust rendition of God Bless America by Jim.]
What do you do at CASA?
Jim: We sing to the lovely young ladies.
Brad: I remember one day when they all came into town around the holidays. I was in the matinee performance of A Christmas Carole at the Elks and the place was packed. I was on stage doing my thing, and these guys were in the third row, enjoying their popcorn, and pausing only long enough to yell to me from the stage, "Brad Newman, be nice to that little boy!"
Mary Ellen: Ted does that all the time. He likes watching Turner Classic Movies like Dancing with Wolves, and he always yells at the screen, “You don't treat a woman like that! You don’t do that!" He gets so into it!
We heard you took a cruise to Hawaii on that big boat?
Ted: I went all over that island. It was beautiful! I had a Hawaiian shirt!
Jim: I saw Don Ho! He sings beautifully, that guy!
How about all the staff here at Antelope Point? Aren't they wonderful?
Ted: I love Erica! Don’t I, Erika?
What about Brad?
Jim: I have known Brad Newman a long time!
Brad: Do you remember when I had to shave half my beard on a bet? Everyone thought that was pretty funny, and you forget you only have half a beard when doing errands like going to True Value!
Jim: Yes! You had half a beard!!
Ted: Silly stuff!
Mary Ellen, what does it mean to you and your family having Jim and Ted here at AP@E?
Mary Ellen: I'm pleased because it gives both Jim and Ted activities and things they can do—a social life. They have lots of friends. They go to movies and bowling, and to the candle factory where they worked. They used to go to the Food Bank, and volunteer there. They’d come home and talk about the different things they did there.
These guys both look amazing! Like they are in their 50s! What’s the secret?
Brad: You know, it’s having friends, being busy, having a wonderfully loving family, healthful living, no worries. They’re not thinking about inflation or delegates.
Jim: I have a new girlfriend!
It’s so important for the community to see these guys and gals in action, out and about, volunteering, and serving the public.
Brad: Going to Costco to get gas is a favorite field trip! They attendants would say later they saw Jim and Ted and the guys. They’re contributing to society. Wouldn’t your spirits be lifted if you had a visit from these guys?
Mary Ellen: On a funny note, Ted and Jim will come home after they’ve gone to Samaritan Village and they will come and say they “sang for the elderly.” And once, when we were driving down the street and saw a red convertible, Jim said, “I’m going to get me one of those when I grow up!"
That’s great stuff! That interaction is so important for everyone.
Mary Ellen: It’s just great because when all the different guys and gals go out and are seen in the community, it gives the public a chance to see and to meet special folks who they might not have come in contact with any other way. And, they learn that they are just like anybody else.
Brad: I think that’s what keeps me at it, especially when we're volunteering. Whether it’s at Casa or Samaritan Village, it’s so impactful that they see Ted and Jim as working, contributing people and not discarded members of society. In fact, these guys pay taxes, they help soldiers, nurses, teachers, and just contribute in so many ways.
Mary Ellen: You know; we love having Brad here. Everything is so upbeat, no downward. It’s always positive and happy.
Where do you guys work when you are here?
Ted: I'll show you where I work!
With that, the interview ended, but not without one great patriotic tune rolling through the minds of everyone there.
Yavapai Exceptional Industries (YEI!) is a charitable organization founded in 1974 to support adults with disabilities. YEI! has been providing job training, employment, volunteer placements, and support services for these developmentally disabled adult residents of the cities and towns of the Central Highlands. Their program of “Developmental Employment” includes the award-winning “Community Contribution Corps” (community volunteer placements) and has been continually accredited at the highest level of service by the National Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) since 1978.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Brad Newman, 928.713.1979 firstname.lastname@example.org
June 21 – 27, 2016
July 6 – 14, 2016