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People: A Community Volunteer's Work is Never Done

When Helen Kelley came of voting age, she was a freshman at Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) in the early 1960s. 

She clearly recalls the pride she felt as she cast that first ballot, thinking of the many who had struggled during the Civil Rights Movement so she and others would have suffrage.

Since then, Kelley has consistently answered the call to public service, first and foremost in her nearly 31-year primary teaching career in Fulton County, Georgia. She has also remained active in the political arena, participating in voter registration drives and state legislators’ campaigns. She even works on the page staff during the legislative session.

One of her most meaningful efforts started in 2003, when Kelley began volunteering with the Senior Medicare Patrol Watch under Atlanta’s Department of Aging.

“As you become a senior citizen and you are faced with the issues seniors encounter on a daily basis, you want to learn more and help others be aware,” she says.

To help seniors and their caretakers guard against Medicare fraud and errors, Kelley traveled to nursing homes, churches, and other community locations. She says such efforts have helped cut the problem dramatically. 

Kelley served five years with the Watch before the program ended in May. She now keeps busy with her grandchildren and working as a substitute teacher for Atlanta city schools. She is also co-chair of membership for the Georgia Association of Educators-Retired, and hopes to participate in an upcoming project warning seniors about identity theft.

—Nina Sears

Preserving Memories in Miniature

 For most tourists, a couple of tchotchkes or a scrapbook serve as keepsakes of their travels.

But not for Stan Neuenschwander, a former commercial art teacher and vocational director of the Montgomery Public School System in Montgomery, Ala., who spends up to a year after a major trip designing and constructing dollhouses representing the country he and his wife visited.

Each one is complete with electric wiring, furniture to scale, and, of course, dolls.“I used to make antique kitchen clocks but my wife told me to quit because we had too many of them,” said Neuenschwander. “”So I started building miniature houses."

The detail-oriented hobby came naturally for Neuenschwander, who taught high school art and history in Indiana, later moving to Alabama where he developed a commercial art curriculum that was adopted statewide.

Once retired, he indulged his lifelong love of travel. After a 2003 trip to Germany, Neuenschwander set to work on his first dollhouse: a replica of a traditional Bavarian home.

Eight years later, he has built six structures, including an English Tudor house, a French country estate, a Chinese aristocratic house, and an American Victorian mansion.

Neuenschwander’s next project is creating a dollhouse reproduction of his childhood home.

“As long as I feel excited [about a place], I’ll keep building.”

—Svetlana Shkolnikova

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