Vancouver event connects seniors, services

50+ Connections Expo has been offered for the past two decades

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor

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The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program says it has volunteers at 150 local nonprofit organizations who saved the community $1,787,455 in 2011.

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Find volunteering opportunities with the Human Services Council

Fran McNicholas of Yacolt was extolling the benefits of Taoist tai chi on Sunday afternoon in a ballroom of the Hilton Vancouver Washington.

"It really helps with flexibility, relaxation, balance, focus, memory," the 67-year-old Yacolt resident said.

The tai chi booth was one of 120 at the 50+ Connections Expo.

The event was presented by the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program and The Messenger newspaper. PeaceHealth was the major sponsor.

RSVP Manager Jeanne Phipps said about 2,500 people attended the free event. The event has been offered for the past two decades.

Chris Cravens, 64, of Portland's Parkrose neighborhood, attended the event.

"I'm going over to the hearing aid booth and see if that is helpful," she said.

She said her kids often say her hearing is bad.

"I always tell them they mumble," she said.

Of the expo, she said, "It's been fun. I think it's nice to offer this."

"No wax, good," Roz Sinclair told a woman at the Willoughby Hearing booth. She is a hearing instrument specialist and was examining people along with her colleague Dain Huston.

"As we age, we lose hearing. We all do," Sinclair said. "The interesting thing about hearing loss is it's an invisible disability."

Huston was using a tool that allowed people to "see your ear drum 30 times its normal size" on a screen in front of them. He and Sinclair were referring people to ear, nose and throat specialists for ear exams.

Around two ballrooms were an array of vendors including Edward Jones Investments; Fort Vancouver Convalescent Center; Vancouver Housing Authority; Humana health insurance; Sleep Number beds; Vancouver Vein & Surgical Center.

At the Fred Meyer Diabetes Screening, Richard Lutz, 34, was checking people for blood glucose levels.

"We've been pretty much one after another. It seems like more than 100," Lutz said at 3 p.m. He is a pharmacy intern at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore. He said people were grateful to receive the screening.

Sharon Heydet, 73, of Vancouver's Fairway Village, was wearing a sandwich board for American Association of University Women.

"We are trying to get new members," she said. "We do so many good things. … We give yearly scholarships to WSUV (Washington State University Vancouver) and Clark College women."

Her husband, Richard Heydet, 80, explained: "She hustles. She's out with her net."

Gary Beagle, 57, of Vancouver was at the Clark County Commission on Aging booth. He is on the commission's board and said it looks for ways to improve life in the county for seniors.

"I'm getting asked for a grocery store downtown," he said.

He was with his friend Jim Gore, 60, who moved from Portland to Vancouver seven years ago.

"We have a lot of people moving in," Gore said. "Vancouver is a happy place for seniors."