In honor of Grandparents Day, Sunday, September 8, we introduce you to a very special grandfather and granddaughter volunteer team who bring joy to the residents of Waverly Gardens, in North Oaks, MN.
Meet Bill and Maddie
Bill Radtke is a fixture at Waverly Gardens and so is his two-year-old granddaughter, Maddie. According to resident Ann Kmit, Bill and Maddie visit nearly every Saturday. Maddie especially enjoys eating breakfast with residents at The Bistro, exercising with the ladies, golfing at the putting green and swimming in the pool once a month. She’s the youngest regular volunteer at Waverly Gardens. Ann wrote in the Waverly Gardens Newsletter*, “She probably knows as many residents and staff by name as our Campus Administrator!”
Bill began volunteering at Waverly Gardens 12 years ago, starting with his visits to Gordy Carr, his mentor and life-long friend. When Gordy moved to Waverly Gardens, Bill saw to it that Gordy had anything he needed, especially his companionship. The two became well known in the community. “Whenever I would visit Gordy, we would make the rounds together through the whole place. He would say ‘hi’ to everyone and we’d get to know them,” Bill remembered.
Soon after Maddie was born in November 2016, Bill began to bring her with him to see Gordy. After Gordy passed away about a year ago, Maddie and her “Pop-pop,” as she calls Bill, have continued their visits to what she calls “Gordy’s Big House.”
Here comes Maddie!
“When Maddie comes along, she’s a magnet!” said Bill, beaming as people stop in their tracks to talk to his adorable grandchild. For a two year old, Maddie knows a lot about older adults, what games they like to play, such as cards and golf; why some are helped the assistance of a cane, wheelchair, walker or scooter; and the importance of afternoon naps.
Breakfast at The Bistro is a special time. “We’ve had to pull two tables together because it’s the ‘fun table’ and everybody wanted to join us,” said Bill. He often carries residents’ meal trays for them while Maddie cleans up under the chairs with a whisk broom and dustpan.
Maddie has a special talent for bringing the “sillies” out in people. “There’s Betty who liked to play peek-a-boo with Maddie behind a pile of pillows,” Bill recalled. “Several times we’ve visited Betty and I just sat there while she and Maddie ran around the apartment playing ‘hide-and-seek!” he said with a big smile.
Jennifer Radtke sees value in the time her father and daughter spend together at Waverly Gardens. “It’s been a bonding time for Dad and Maddie. I think she understands that aging is just a normal part of life. Although she’s young, it’s also made us able to talk about tough life subjects such as changing abilities as people age and even death.” Jennifer says that some of Maddie’s best friends, the people she talks about the most, live at Waverly Gardens. “It’s been a wonderful thing for our whole family,” she said.
Ann speaks for all at Waverly Gardens when she shared, “We are all richer for Bill’s care and Maddie’s engaging personality. Most of all, [they] make us feel loved.”
Are you a grandparent or grandchild? Let us know if you will be doing something grand for Grandparent’s Day on the PHS Facebook page and include #DoSomethingGrand.
*Thank you to Ann Kmit who contributed to this story.