Joel Halpern – Remington Club benefits from his efforts
Elizabeth Marie Himchak
Joel Halpern’s assistance to his fellow Remington Club residents is a continuation of his past volunteer work at Scripps Hospital.
The Carlsbad resident of 27 years moved to the Rancho Bernardo-based retirement community more than two years ago to be closer to his children who live in Escondido. Soon after moving into the Remington, he decided to volunteer several hours a week in its health care center.
That volunteerism includes accompanying the center’s long-term, often wheelchair-bound, residents on weekly bus trips for sightseeing and lunch throughout North County. Halpern said he pushes their wheelchairs and assists them with physical tasks.
The 89-year-old said this is similar to his volunteer work of driving the Scripps Mobile, a van equipped for riders in wheelchairs. Through the free service he would drive the van throughout Carlsbad, Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe and neighboring areas to pick up those who needed to see a doctor or receive medical services and treatments. Toward the end of his tenure with Scripps he was appointed the team leader.
“I just enjoy helping people,” Halpern said, adding the choice of activity is partially influenced by the treatment he received in World War II. During his 3 1/2-year stint in the Army as part of the Signal Corps’ radio intelligence division he was injured and “people were very nice to me when I was in the hospital.”
He also said another factor in him volunteering at the Remington’s health center was his second wife, Maryalice, who stayed there for a while. The couple had known each other as teenagers — Maryalice dated Halpern’s best friend, he said. After Halpern’s wife of 60 years, Priscilla, died, he went back to his New Jersey hometown for a vacation. A friend mentioned Maryalice and encouraged him to contact her, even though it had been six decades since they last spoke. They married in 2006 and Maryalice moved out to California.
When not volunteering in the health center, Halpern said likes to run errands for fellow residents. For example, he takes them to the doctor or barber shop and picks up their prescriptions.
“I drive, but many here do not,” he said.
As for other activities, Halpern walks several miles each week — daily if weather permits — throughout the Remington’s grounds, the nearby shopping center, Webb Park and Seven Oaks neighborhood.
“I’ve gotten to know a lot of dogs over the years,” he said, adding that is why he always carries dog biscuits in his pockets, so he can give treats.
Because of his extensive walking, Halpern said earlier this year he decided to join two fundraiser walks — one at Legoland benefiting multiple sclerosis and the Relay for Life in Rancho Bernardo Community Park, which benefited the American Cancer Society. He learned about both while on the Internet, he said.
Halpern said the walks were doable because he has always been physically active. As a youth he played several sports and was a gymnast. “I can still run, jump and play softball,” he added. At the Remington he is also known for his ability to play ping pong with fellow residents and staff members.
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