BUCKET LIST: Nursing Home Fulfilling Dreams

Carroll, IA – Nearly 32,000 Iowans live in nearly 450 nursing homes.  While it’s the last place most of those people will ever call “home,” it’s the beginning of an adventure for many of the residents at St. Anthony Nursing Home in Carroll.

“Boy!  This`ll surely give the residents something to talk about.” said 92-year-old Louie Stork, as he was loaded onto a bus for a special field trip.  “He is very excited about this.  This is a really fun day for all of us.” said Stork’s daughter, Diane Smith.

On a Wednesday morning, Stork’s “Bucket List” adventure took him to Templeton Rye Whiskey Distillery.  St. Anthony Activity Director Aura Lee Sibenaller came up with the idea to ask residents what was on their “bucket lists?”  The term was popularized several years ago by a Hollywood feature film.  Sibenaller said, “I just thought that if they could (accomplish things they had always wanted to do) in the movie, why can`t we do it here in a nursing home?”

So, they did.

Resident Neal Bruening brought his mother along to the museum of religious arts.  Evelyn Kerkoff got to tour of the state prison in Rockwell city.  Evelyn Snyder is still blushing from her bucket list encounter with her Irish heart throb, a concert performed by the singer Daniel O’Donnell.  She exclaimed, “He kissed me on the cheek, and I have not washed my face since he kissed me on the cheek!

St. Anthony has granted 14 wishes and counting.  Sibenaller organizes the outings.  The nursing home covers transportation costs.  Many attractions offer free admission, and restaurants have donated free meals to “The Bucket Listers.”

Stork’s son, Larry Stork, explained how the program changes residents’ attitudes because it gives them something to look forward to, aside from the typical daily routine.  Larry said that once Louie learned he was visiting the distillery, “He has just been on cloud nine since he found out.”

Stork made the most of that tour.  He grew up hearing the stories about the outlaws in Carroll County who made whiskey from a recipe older than he is.  He always wondered what really went on behind the scenes during America’s prohibition era?  “I bought it, but I never made it.  I never made the stuff.” said Stork.

After swapping stories with the distillery’s owner, Keith Kerkhoff, Stork was given a bottle of whiskey that he got to label.  “This is exactly what we want.  This is exactly (the type of experience) we (at St. Anthony) strive for,” said Sibenaller.  Then, without hesitation, Stork downed a shot of “The Good Stuff” and exclaimed, “Now that`s the only way you drink whiskey!  That`s what makes it special.  Thank you!”

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