Audrey's Angels helping seniors remember the good times

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- "When I was in high school I was a pompom girl and we'd dance at the games," Shirley Quist said. "It was really fun."

Quist lives at a small senior care facility called Sun Valley Heights in Scottsdale. It is one of the nicer facilities for a senior to live. 

Still, life can get a little lonely and that's where Audrey's Angels come in.

Audrey's Angels was founded in 2001 by Audrey Alderson and her husband, Dr. Robert Alderson. The family put their loved one into a senior care home and realized something was missing – music.

Audrey’s Angels – made up mainly of volunteers -- set out to bring music, laughter and love to small care facilities all over the Valley. 

They started in nine homes with the help of five music and craft angels. The charity now serves more than 100 homes.

At Sun Valley Heights where Quist lives, musician Vinny DiJohn is very popular. He sings to the ladies and helps them recapture the past. As he sings old classics, the ladies – all well into their 70s and 80s – think back.

Mary Otte told us in high school she did a lot of square dancing. 

Quist was a fan of country music, too.

"My husband loved western music we used to go out and dance a lot," Quist said, a smile coming over her face as she thinks back to those good times in her life.

"It’s a pleasure to learn the music these folks grew up with," DiJohn said, "and have the opportunity to play for them so it brings back memories. That's the culmination of our whole life is our memory.  It’s nice whatever memory they have left to be able to pull out that memory."

"There could be some with Alzheimer's," Linda Alderson, executive director of Audrey's Angels, tells us as she describes the seniors who live in these care facilities. "Others it's just not safe living on their own so family makes the decision so they don't have to worry about medication or their loved one going out on their own during the day."

But the days can be long for many seniors – especially those who don't have family or friends who come to visit.

And so the mission of Audrey's Angels is pretty simple. No matter how much or how little you remember, never forget to have fun.