Adventure Bus participants returned to the campus of Handmaker Jewish Services for Aging after 14 months on May 11, 2021. Handmaker residents rejoiced in the reunion with past participants, welcomed new friends, and greeted volunteer coordinator Bruce Pitz.
Tucson winter visitor Adrienne Drell originated the idea for Adventure Bus eleven years ago after her husband, Frank Nitikman, participated in a similar program in Chicago during the summers. Adventure Bus is designed to serve individuals experiencing the early stages of diminished memory capacity, and as a respite option for caregivers.
Drell approached former Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona (JFSA) President & CEO Stu Mellan, who subsequently spoke with Art Martin, former Handmaker CEO. Martin asked Handmaker program coordinator Angela Salmon, to contact the program Frank had participated in, CJE Senior Life’s Culture Bus in Chicago, for more information. Armed with background information, training, a generous donation from the Nitikmans, the Adventure Bus program was born.
The program offered bi-weekly social and cultural indoor programs and day trips to various events and destinations in Tucson and the surrounding areas. It included docent guided tours of exhibits and museums, creative self-expression activities, a healthy and delicious lunch and plenty of conversation and socialization throughout the day.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Adventure Bus has been suspended for more than a year. It has now resumed, and is offered on Tuesdays for the indoor social and cultural programs and lunch. Adventure Bus hopes to begin trips out into the community for program participants this fall.
At the May 11 official reopening of the program, participants spent the morning together getting reacquainted, then learning about how eight countries around the world celebrate Spring. In celebration of renewal and new beginnings, they painted plastic pots to which they added soil and flowers. Their afternoon was spent enjoying lunch prepared by Handmaker’s Executive Chef, Claire Wilmouth, followed by a stroll through the hallways and into the courtyards. Along the way, they visited with residents – one who was a past Adventure Bus participant and another who had been a volunteer and given them a tour of the Desert Museum in the past. The day ended in Sing Along with their long-time music therapist, Renee Poirer.
For information about participating in Adventure Bus, contact Angela Salmon at [email protected].