Debbie Brennan: Making a Positive Impact

February 5, 2019

On a bookshelf near her front door, Debbie Brennan houses a trove of mementos and memories. Pictures of happy, smiling faces adorn the shelves, most of them snapshots from her daughters’ weddings and portraits of her four grandchildren. Further down is a shelf filled with an eclectic collection of books, from To Kill a Mockingbird to the latest from Madeline Albright. But one book tucked away at the end of the shelf is of particular interest.

“I used to babysit for a family friend who worked for IBM,” Debbie says, while pulling out the book about computers and their inner workings. “He’s the one who convinced me to go into computers.”

For the Sterling Court resident, that conversation would turn out to play a major part in her life and career. After graduating with a Liberal Arts degree from Marymount University in Virginia, Debbie went to trade school and trained to be a programmer. She worked as a COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language) programmer for five years before transitioning into a sales position selling time on mainframes. When she moved to the Bay Area two decades ago, she worked as a bookkeeper before becoming a recruiter for EnCorps, a program dedicated to providing high quality math and science teachers to students throughout the country.

“That was my favorite,” Debbie says, referring to her time recruiting. “It combined everything I’d ever done and was very rewarding.”

The Louisville, Kentucky native has made a habit out of making a positive impact in other people’s lives. While living in Massachusetts, Debbie volunteered her time to start and run a support group for parents of special needs children. She did it all over again when she moved to the Bay Area, providing parents with a support system they otherwise may not have had.

The pride she feels from starting the support groups is evident. “I’d say it’s one of my greatest legacies,” she says with a smile. “It helped a lot of people.”

These days, Debbie takes the most pride in her beautiful family. Three of her four daughters are local and visit her often, and she loves to talk about her three granddaughters and one grandson.

Though she’s only been a resident since this past August, Debbie has managed to settle in nicely to Sterling Court. “I came in totally cold. Didn’t know the area, didn’t know any people here,” she says. “But now I know more people, know what’s what.”

Living with neuropathy hasn’t slowed her down, either. Always a fan of the outdoors, Debbie ventures out to walk whenever she gets the chance. Burlingame Avenue and the Burlingame Public Library are two of her favorite destinations. “It helps that the area is very flat,” she says, laughing.

In her free time, Debbie enjoys the entertainment provided at Sterling Court, especially when a piano player takes center stage. She’s also found other residents who are living with neuropathy and plans to get together with them to talk and share experiences. It’s clear that she feels like she’s found a home.

Protein: How Much Do You Need?

January 23, 2019

What better time than the start of a new year than to think about health and well- being – and some new tips to help us get to our best! This month, we are inspired by a recent article published by NPR on protein and its impact on us.

When it comes to protein, you might think it’s a nutritional source gained only from eating meat or dairy products. However, it comes in many other forms, including vegan friendly options such as fruit, beans, vegetables, and grains. In addition to these whole foods, protein comes in the form of powders, pills, and bars. But how much do we really need each day—and are these extra forms a necessary investment for our health? The answer depends on different factors.

Protein keeps us healthy by building our nails, hair, bones, and muscles. It can also help us feel fuller compared to eating other foods that are not high in protein value.

The average adult needs between 50-60 grams of protein each day. If you are recovering from an injury or over 60, more than this recommended value can be beneficial. It is important to note that dehydration is a risk when consuming or adding more protein to your diet, so make sure to drink about 60 to 70 ounces of fluids a day.

It’s easier to eat protein than you might think. Angela Pipitone, a dietitian with Johns Hopkins McKusick- Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, uses everyday meals as an example. She says there are 22 grams of protein for breakfast in two eggs topped with a little bit of cheese plus an orange. A balanced lunch of chicken, rice, and broccoli will meet the recommended 50 grams, proving that the daily protein value can be achieved even before dinnertime.

Around age 60, “muscles really start to break down, and because of that, in addition to the fact that as we get older our body’s ability to break down protein is reduced, the protein needs of an older adult actually increases,” says Kathryn Starr, an aging researcher at Duke University School of Medicine. In a recent study conducted by Starr, adding extra protein to the diet of obese older individuals

who were trying to lose weight strengthened their muscles. One group consumed 90 grams of protein a day, while the control group ate a low-calorie diet with about 50 to 60 grams of protein a day. She concluded that participants in the higher protein group were able to walk faster, had improved balance, and were also able to get up out of a chair faster than the control group.

70-year-old Corliss Keith, who was in the high protein group in Starr’s study, says she feels a big difference. “I feel excellent,” she says. “I feel like I have a different body, I have more energy, I’m stronger.” She adds that she can take Zumba exercise classes three times a week, work out on the treadmill, and take long, brisk walks.

With this health information in mind, now is the perfect time to set some goals to start your new year off right!

Where Words Come From

January 16, 2019

ACADEMY – Where did the word “Academy” come from? The answer is the ancient Greeks from 2,500 years ago. The famous philosopher, Plato (427-347 B.C.), started a school of inquiry and learning. His school, the Academe, or also, Academia, was in a  grove of olive trees near Athens, owned  by a farmer. We  get the name of our prestigious schools the same way Plato did – after that plain, old fruit-tree farmer, Academes.

HAM ACTOR – Where did the word “Ham Actor” come from? The ham actor is one who is pretty far down the scale in acting ability. About 1875, a tenth-rate actor was called a hamfatter in the U.S. The early name derived from the fact that, for economic reasons, these actors used ham-fat instead of cold cream to remove the make-up. With no contempt, it is also applied to the large army of well-equipped amateur radio operators, probably because, in the early days of radio, these opera- tors were fumbling novices.

POTTER’S FIELD – This phrase goes all the way back to the time of Jesus’ death. Judas Iscariot, infamously, betrayed his Master to the Romans was a kiss on the cheek. He received 30 pieces of silver for  his treachery. Unable to live with himself, he threw the silver to the Jewish priests. Not knowing  what to do with such an ill-begotten windfall, the elders found some charitable work they could do with the silver. They purchased a field near Jerusalem which was particularly rich in clay. The craftsmen who made pots used this field for the raw material of their handiwork. The “potter’s field” was turned into Potter’s Field, a graveyard for travelers who died penniless. More than 2000 years later, we still call any such cemetery a Potter’s Field.

Phil & Lois Everett: The Perfect Team

December 18, 2018

As you walk along the halls of Sterling Court, you don’t need to go very far to hear an extraordinary story – or maybe even two. Phil and Lois Everett have been married for 63 years. Even after just one conversation with them, it’s clear they’re just as happy together now as they were when they first met so many years ago.

Phil is an entertainer at heart. Throughout his life, he joined local community theatre troupes and performed in various works, even writing some of his own. It comes as no surprise that he’s a natural storyteller. He immediately dives into the story of how he and Lois met in Staten Island, New York, where they were both born and raised.

“A friend of mine was in a social club,” Phil says, before smiling at his wife. “Lois happened to be in the same club!”

Bowling was one of the activities that the social club participated in. As fate would have it, Phil and Lois wound up being placed on the same bowling team. Lois admits she knew nothing about bowling. But the upside was that Phil was her captain.

“That’s when I fell for him, right then and there,” Lois adds matter-of-factly. While Phil seems more of the jokester between the two, Lois also brings on the humor when speaking of her husband. “I used to stand behind him and think, ‘oh he looks quite nice!’ 

The youngest child in a big family, Lois always did well in school as a girl. Due to financial hardships, however, she was unable to pursue her education after graduating from high school. But a couple of decades after Lois and Phil had married and moved to San Mateo, she admirably continued her education. She first attended the College of San Mateo before getting her Bachelor’s Degree from San Francisco State University, graduating on the same day that their eldest child, Eileen, graduated high school in 1974. Lois went on to earn her Master’s Degree in Accounting from the College of Notre Dame in Belmont. She was in her 30s.

Phil wasted no time praising his wife, crediting her perseverance in continuing her studies and uplifting their family. Lois, in turn, said the same thing about her husband. She credits how his hard work throughout the years helped enable her to continue her education.

Over the years, Phil held various jobs to make a good living for his wife and two children (their son, Mark, lives nearby with his wife). Phil had experience in being a stable hand, a longshore- man, and a custodian. But theatre was always a big part of his life. Evidently, Eileen had shared this trait. Phil and Lois proudly state that in high school, she had a part in a production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

With such adventurous lives, Phil and Lois are both enjoying life at Sterling Court. Even now, they continue to be an amazing team. Phil enjoys cooking, but Lois does not. It’s no problem at all, according to Phil. “I cook and she cleans up.”

Clearly, it’s the perfect deal.

Let’s Play a Game!

December 17, 2018

Games are the perfect topic for this month’s feature article. Sometimes we just need to stay indoors (like recently due to the air quality from the devastating fires), and a game is a great way to make new friends or to pass the time alone. Games provide mental stimulation, which is great for our overall well-being. For some people, playing certain types of games might be beneficial for things like mood, memory, concentration, reasoning, and imagination. Games can be especially helpful for your brain if they require you to learn something new.

With the holidays coming up, a game might be the ideal gift for someone you know (or maybe you want to drop a hint to a family member so you get just what you want ). Any of these can, of course, be ordered online, but with great toy stores like Five Little Monkeys in downtown Burlingame and Talbots Toyland in downtown San Mateo, you can also check many of them out in person. As you know, at Sterling Court we play lots of games. Just check out the calendar and you’ll see some kind of game happening practically every day. Join in! In the meantime, here are 10 games we found online at that you may not know about:

Qwirkle: Mix and match tiles with different shapes and colors, scoring points by completing or adding to lines of the same shapes or colors.

Dixit: Out-bluff your opponents while using your imagination to match stories to beautifully illustrated cards.

Rummikub: Be the first one to play all of your numbered tiles by placing them in consecutive sequences or groups of the same numbers or colors. (We love Rummikub at Sterling Court!)

Dominoes: Play all of your domino tiles before the other players by laying them down end-to-end with matching tiles that have already been played. (Another great game we play here at 7:00 p.m. on Saturdays!)

Ubongo: Race against other players as you try to solve puzzles of interlocking geometric shapes in order to grow your treasure of gems.

Jenga: Beware of gravity as you try not to be the one who pulls out the wooden block that makes the whole tower come crashing down.

Tsuro: Lay your own tiled path while avoiding the paths of other players that can send you the wrong way or off the board completely.

Chronology: Put your historical knowledge to the test by trying to be the first one to build a 10-card timeline based on the correct order of events.

Latice: Play all of your tiles before anyone else by matching them on different sides and strategically using sun squares and wind tiles based on what you think your opponents still have in their possession.

Mahjong: Be the first player to build a winning combination of tiles based on rummy-like groupings of symbols and characters.

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850 N. El Camino Real San Mateo, CA 94401 Phone: (650) 344-8200 Fax: (650) 344-7395

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