Batavia woman, 79, marks 13 years volunteering at LivingWell Cancer Resource Center

Posted11/7/2018 2:18 PM
  • LivingWell Cancer Resource Center volunteer Mary DeKlyen of Batavia was recently honored with other volunteers by Northwest Medicine.

    LivingWell Cancer Resource Center volunteer Mary DeKlyen of Batavia was recently honored with other volunteers by Northwest Medicine. COURTESY OF JENNY NOWATZKE

Thirteen years ago, Mary DeKlyen would kill time on her volunteer shift at the LivingWell Cancer Resource Center by doing her crossword puzzles.

In working at the front desk of the center, she actually had that kind of time on her hands.

"We didn't have that many people coming in, but it has built up and up since then," said DeKlyen, a 79-year-old Batavia woman who was among the more than 150 volunteers Northwest Medicine honored last week for their dedication to the cancer resource center.

And DeKlyen stands out, in part because of her age, but also for longevity and devotion to the center in having volunteered since just a month after it first opened in a smaller facility on State Street in Geneva before moving to its new location at 442 Williamsburg Ave.

"We have so many classes and things that people love at LivingWell," DeKlyen said of a center that helps those being treated for cancer to engage with others going through the same experience and to take their minds off it with various projects and coping tips.

"When people are leaving the art classes, they show us their work and they are so excited about what they did," DeKlyen said. "It just feels so good to help people."

DeKlyen still works at the front desk at the center. She takes calls, greets people as they come in, takes attendance, gives tours of the center to new patients, and helps ladies choose wigs from the American Cancer Society's wig boutique.

It's emotionally rewarding for DeKlyen, whose sister died from lung cancer. "It makes me feel good to go there every time and I feel like I get more out of it than I give."

Her husband Carl died three years ago, and DeKlyen points to her few shifts a week at the cancer center as a major way to help her combat the loneliness of being a widow.

"I have become good friends with the other volunteers there, and it has been wonderful for me," she said.

DeKlyen is quick to point out the center is "not a medical place," but rather one in which encouraging people and lifting spirits is the main focus.

"To me, LivingWell is all about the people," she added. "The people who volunteer are great and the people who come there looking for our services are absolutely wonderful."

She plans to continue volunteering for years to come. "I will keep doing this until my mind goes," she said.

If the crossword puzzles are still part of her daily equation in her free time, it's not likely that mind is going to "go" anytime soon.

Arts and crafts galore:

Get your arts and crafts hats on for this weekend. A couple of big events are unfolding to get you in the holiday spirit early.

The Geneva Women's Club is hosting its 44th annual Holiday Arts & Crafts Show from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, at Geneva High School.

Admission is $5, but free for children younger than 12. It's an event that benefits local charities, making it another reason to stop in.

Meanwhile, Heritage Prairie Farm is hosting its free Artisan Craft & Food Fair from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 11.

The farm is in Elburn, about three miles west of Geneva on Route 38 at Brundige Road.

An elected official's purpose:

The words of praise for Richard Lindholm, the former Geneva mayor who passed away two weeks ago, from those who knew him well were certainly deserved.

I wasn't around these parts when Lindholm served as mayor from 1965 to 1973. I simply knew him as Dick Lindholm, the Geneva Township supervisor many years later.

But it didn't take me long to see why he had such great success in getting things done, starting with making you feel as if he'd known you for years.

His passion at that time was finding more opportunities for senior housing and, essentially, making sure that he and others like him could afford to stay in their hometown during the golden years.

It was fairly easy to formulate in my mind what type of mayor he must been.

It wouldn't be completely fair to say he was in charge of a Geneva that may have amounted to a version of Mayberry during those years, but he certainly fit the role of an Andy Taylor in being a nice fellow and a great listener. And if there were some bumbling characters around who would fit in a Mayberry scene on TV, Lindholm was likely the wise adviser who could straighten things out.

He was your classic community servant. He pursued ideas he knew would resonate with others, and listened to the ideas of others to make sure he wasn't missing something.

If anyone cares to listen back, this is how an elected official is supposed to go about his or her work. It's advice that would serve Tuesday's winners well.

He's the professor:

You figured Gregory Alexander would know his stuff about the Beatles in his presentation of "The White Album: 50 Facts for 50 Years" at the Geneva Library last week.

But I didn't remember that he was also "Professor Moptop," the Beatles expert who provides interesting tidbits and facts during "Breakfast with The Beatles" on deejay Terri Hemmert's Sunday morning show on WXRT.

No wonder the guy knows so much. To be considered the voice of all things Beatles on that program means one thing: You are definitely an expert.

And he showed us that.

He talked about so many interesting things related to The Beatles and their visit to India in the mid-1960s to spend time with the Maharishi -- and how it influenced the album.

A really interesting item was that Paul McCartney wrote "Helter Skelter" about a winding slide at a theme park he encountered.

"There was nothing else to it," Alexander said.

"Helter Skelter," after all, was the song that mass murderer Charles Manson claimed spoke to him about a pending race war in which all people of color in the country would eventually turn to him to be their leader.

So, all of that mayhem came about because Paul enjoyed a slide in an amusement park? Well, we all know Charlie was one strange and very dangerous bird.

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