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News >  Pacific NW

Kennewick retirees’ online news show garners worldwide fan base

By Sara Schilling Tri-City Herald

The Tri-Cities’ most delightful journalists aren’t at a TV or radio station – or even the Tri-City Herald.

They’re at the Brookdale Canyon Lakes retirement community in Kennewick, producing a weekly online broadcast that’s warming hearts and winning fans around the world.

For evidence of their charm, check out any of their videos – from their reports on the Turkey Trot to chronicles of their adventures ziplining in Costa Rica.

Or witness this exchange:

“People (in this group) are willing to say, ‘yes.’ So many times in life you say, ‘Do you want to do this?’ And the answer is, ‘Oh, no,’ ” said interviewer Ginger Vetrano, 85. “But this is a group that says, ‘Sure, I’ll do that.’ No matter what the job is. Wearing beards, hats …”

“Or turkey suits,” said John Lucas, 75, who spent part of the Turkey Trot episode dressed as a turkey.

“It’s like, we now have a job to go to. We’re retirees with a job. And it’s fun! It’s a fun job,” said Tina Brumage, 74, who was one of the first to sign up for the show.

“The pay isn’t quite …” said Alice Marple, 87, always good for a zinger.

“The pay is actually very good, because we get smiles,” Brumage said.

About 20 seniors create the show, brainstorming ideas during a Monday production meeting – it’s more fun than happy hour, Brumage said – and then going in front of the camera on Wednesdays.

Joe Green, resident programs coordinator, does the filming and editing. He usually posts the episodes on Fridays on Brookdale’s Vimeo page; clips also are posted on Facebook.

Green said the This Week at Canyon Lakes crew has a wealth of talent and working on the show is great deal of fun.

And the seniors praise Green right back, saying he’s a big part of why it works so well.

“What I like is, I make every mistake you can make on film and Joe makes me look good,” said Flora Goodale, 82.

“He has ‘OFP.’ That’s ‘Old Folks Patience,’ ” Lucas said, to loud laughs.

Since This Week at Canyon Lakes debuted in summer 2015, it’s racked up more than 37,000 views on Vimeo in 47-plus countries.

Each episode typically lasts about 15 minutes, with reports on events, stories on residents, staff interviews and the like.

One popular segment features resident Art Swoboda picking a favorite or timely quote as the week’s “Words of Wisdom.”

The crew sometimes makes shorter clips that aren’t necessarily for the longer show, like a recent holiday flash mob.

This Week at Canyon Lakes is a way to spread the word about activities and programs, to build community, and to keep residents connected with each other and with friends and family who live elsewhere, Green said.

It also shatters misconceptions about what life in the retirement community is like, he said. The residents aren’t bedridden or wasting away.

“We (sometimes) have people call to ask if they can volunteer to come sit at people’s bedsides,” Green said. “We say, ‘Well, actually our residents volunteer to sit at people’s bedsides. They volunteer at hospitals. But right now they’re on a cruise.’ ”

That had the This Week at Canyon Lakes crew roaring.

The seniors said they never seem to run out of ideas for the broadcast. There are always events to cover, always residents with compelling stories, always fun things to try.

So keep an eye out for more shows, they said.

“It makes us feel young and alive. For me, I’m doing something I never thought I would ever do. Whoever thought we’d be doing this and loving it?” Brumage said.

Swoboda pointed out that his first Words of Wisdom featured a quote about age attributed to Mark Twain.

“It was, ‘Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter,’” the 89-year-old said. “That’s our attitude.”

To watch This Week at Canyon Lakes, go to Brookdale Canyon Lake’s Vimeo page. Clips also are on Facebook under Brookdale Canyon Lakes.

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