Gerry Luxton is another Volunteer who quietly is contributing to the quality of life for many people in the Sault.
Gerry, a Sault native, is a retired school teacher. He taught at Ben R McMullin and Northern Heights schools.
Growing up in a musically inclined family he learned to play the piano as well as the organ. He has since played at several churches, and sang at various locations. Foremost on his volunteering efforts is “Hymn Sings” which he develops, organizes, and prepares for. Each month Gerry performs a one hour concert at 12 senior complexes throughout the city. The complexes include Davey Home, Pathways, Finnish Rest Home (3 locations), Van Daele, Cedarwood, Collegiate Heights, Great Northern, Maple View and Light Haven (Bruce Mines).
Gerry has at his own expense put together a multimedia presentation with a laptop computer and power point projector. His data base includes 450 hymns which he has either downloaded or purchased. He projects all the hymns in large block letters for easier viewing by the senior citizens. The songs selected are old well established hymns that are easily recognizable by seniors. Gerry, who has an excellent voice, sings the hymns and many of the residents sing along with him. Gerry mentioned that at Maple View up to 80 residents participate. Alzheimer patients sit in the front during “Hymn Sings” and often join in the singing.
He started “Hymn Sings” at the Plummer Hospital and continued the program at SAH for 2 years after they opened. Musical Therapy is an accurate description of the impact of Hymn Sings on all the attendees. Mary-Alice Policicchio, Chaplain at the Davey Home, explained how very much Gerry is appreciated by both the residents as well as the staff who all enjoy his singing and are often seen singing along as well.
Initially the “Hymn Sings” were held in the Worship Centre which holds 30-35 people however with the increased attendants they are now held in the Celebration Room with a capacity of 75-199 people. In addition to the regular monthly “Hymn Sings” Gerry also does an annual Christmas Karaoke event at all the retirement homes. Gerry prepares the sing along, a half hour of traditional Christmas songs and another half hour of songs like Jingle Bells, White Christmas as well as many others. Mary-Alice told me that at the Davey Home this event is amazing with sing along participation by both the residents and the staff. This past Christmas Eve he presented the Karaoke event to the Community Living Algoma 501 B&C.
In addition to the “Hymn Sings” Gerry does volunteer work at the Sault Area Hospital (SAH). He started there in 2011 as a Wayfinder. Recently he has become the Orientation Teacher for volunteers; this involves two three hour classes per month. He also works as a Navigator in the cancer clinic, four hours two days per week.
Gerry is the one of the pianist for the First Baptist Church playing 2 weeks at a time with 3 weeks off. He also is the Junior Church Teacher during CROWN (coffee with our neighbor), a program at the church that gives out food with a short spiritual message, he plays the piano during the eating.
Caring for the welfare of others is a precious gift, which all volunteers seem, endowed with.
~ Bless you Gerry