By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
A former, short-term resident of St. Otto’s Care Center in Little Falls is giving back to the great group of people he met while he recuperated there.
“I had a hip replacement in January and since I live alone, the doctors did not want me to go home,” said Ron Holthaus, Little Falls. “So, I spent a week at St. Otto’s.”
During breakfast, lunch and dinner, Holthaus sat with four women who, he said, were incredible.
“They reminded me of my grandma, who I spent lots of time with when I was growing up,” he said. “We all got to be good friends.”
Holthaus said that during his recuperation time at St. Otto’s, he came to the realization that people need to stay in touch with their elders more; that seniors have a lot to teach us.
“Some of the residents don’t have visitors more than once a month. It’s sad,” said Holthaus. “They sit and stare out the windows.”
When he was leaving, Holthaus said he and the residents had become so close there were tears and hugs all around when he was discharged.
“It was very emotional,” he said.
So, to bring a little happiness to their lives, he brought what bird feeders he had at home, plus ones he solicited donations for, and set them up in the yard at St. Otto’s.
“Now my friends have something to look at,” he said.
Holthaus created the stand and hung his feeders outside one of the dining area windows. For those eating on the second floor, he brought in binoculars so the residents could better watch the birds.
The trees dotting the yard have feeders hanging from the branches.
“Those people gave me so much happiness while I was here, I had to do the same for them,” he said. The feeder donations came from Walmart, Primary Benefits, the Flying Aces, the Little Country Store, Ace Hardware, Fleet Supply, Pine Country Bank and Ronnie and Jenarae Holthaus
Holthaus didn’t just put up the bird feeders and walk away. There is more. He returns to St. Otto’s at least once a week, if not twice, to fill the feeders. When that job is done, he stops by the rooms of the people he got to know during his stay.
“I don’t spend a lot of time, maybe 15 minutes in each room,” he said. “There are more hugs from the women and handshakes from the men. Every time, their smiles overwhelm me and my visits make their day brighter.”
Holthaus said they should be given more than he can give.
Holthaus wears a pin every day, given to him from one of the residents. She told him it represents the missing piece in one’s life: God.
“It’s to help guide me to a better place,” he said.