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College freshman forms 'incredible bond' at adult day care center

Mary Lois Garvin, 93, and Caleb Clements, 19,  have become fast friends at the  Creative Living Learning Center. Adult Day Health. Clements  started as a class project but continues to come several times a week.
Mary Lois Garvin, 93, and Caleb Clements, 19, have become fast friends at the Creative Living Learning Center. Adult Day Health. Clements started as a class project but continues to come several times a week. Photos by Mary Meehan

Caleb Clements first came to the Center for Creative Living Adult Day Care because he needed to complete 10 hours of community service for a class.

The University of Kentucky freshman has now put in more than 50 hours since the school year started.

Clements, 19, said he picked the center because of its location — situated inside the Lexington Senior Citizens Center off Alumni Drive. It's close to campus and easy for Clements to get to.

There is something about Clements' low-key vibe that has connected with the people at the center. Especially 93-year-old Mary Lois Garvin.

"They just have an incredible bond," said Anne Redmon, the recreational therapist at the center. When Garvin knows that Clements is coming, she lights up, Redmon said.

"She always says, 'Be sure to get out our game.'"

Their game is Connect Four, a vertical tic-tac-toe.

On a recent day, Clements played Connect Four with Garvin and Ann Robinson.

"So, I have to get four?" asked Robinson, seeking guidance from Clements.

"Yes, ma'am," Clements responded, deftly dropping a black checker into a slot.

"So, now it's your turn?" asked Garvin, leaning close to plot her next move.

"Yes, ma'am," said Clements, before returning to his other opponent. "That's right. You're getting close there with three."

And so it went on for a good 30 minutes as he played the children's game with the two women.

Most of the center's clients suffer from Alzheimer's or dementia, and they can get easily agitated and confused. But Clements "somehow just fit right in," Redmon said. There's something in his low tone and gentle way that makes the clients comfortable.

Clements apparently enjoys it, too. He even showed up one day when the clients weren't there. They'd gone on a field trip.

Redmon said Clements helps with arts and crafts, plays games with clients, helps them with Bingo, whatever is needed.

Clements said he'd done a little volunteering when he was a student at Lafayette High School, but nothing serious.

He doesn't really know what clicked for him at the center, exactly. Working with seniors isn't part of his career plan. He's majoring in accounting.

"I just liked it. Everybody here was really nice," he said.

And anytime he's there volunteering, he said with a grin, "time just flies."

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