Monday, February 15, 1999

Group cheers the elderly on holidays

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Valentine's Day was as good an excuse as any for Carl Kamphaus to leave his wife in their cozy Springdale home Sunday to visit a lonely man in Madisonville, a sweet man with bad knees who lost his wife to cancer eight years ago.

        Arthur “Cowboy” McNeil, 73, set the single red rose delivered by Mr. Kamphaus on a table next to him and the two started talking.

        “Don't eat this candy all in one day,” said Mr. Kamphaus, who is 67.

        “Oh, I won't. Sit down a minute,” Mr. McNeil said.

        Mr. Kamphaus volunteers most holidays with the Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly, a nonprofit international group. It has a local chapter in Mount Airy.

        Mr. McNeil was one of 74 elderly people in Hamilton County to receive a flower and candy Sunday delivered by about 25 volunteers, said Randy Yauss, the organization's program director.

        Volunteers visit the elderly at home on holidays and take them to ball games, parks and even an occasional vacation getaway, Mr. Yauss said. Some also have begun regular visits with older residents, he said.

        Mr. Kamphaus remembered seeing “Cowboy” once before at a Little Brothers function.

        So when they sat back and shared stories of their beloved “good old days,” they began to loosen up like old pals as the blues spilled from a portable radio.

        “You got a nice lookin' house here,” Mr. Kamphaus said.

        Mr. McNeil agreed but admitted its seven rooms sometimes seem a bit empty.

        After their visit, Mr. McNeil thanked Mr. Kamphaus and walked him to the door and waved goodbye despite severe arthritis that makes getting around a struggle.

        Even though Mr. Kamphaus and his wife, Myra, raised 11 children, he still feels the need to share his time with his elderly “brothers and sisters” in the community. He's been a volunteer with the group about five years.

        “Even in your own families, I would say there are lonely people. You've got to be careful to think of your own family first,” he said. “If they're all taken care of, then you spread it out to the people who have nobody and be there with them.”


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