CARBONDALE PA – What’s not to love about a summertime picnic? Gather family and friends together, enjoy good foods fresh off the grill, add some toe-tapping music, bright sunshine with a cloud-filled blue sky, and everyone is sure to have a grand time.

Recently, nearly 75 residents of Creekside Health & Rehabilitation and 60 of their family members and friends did just that during the center’s Annual Family Picnic. “We’ve enjoyed holding this picnic every year since 2001,” said Holly Roman, Activities Director and the event’s organizer for the last three years. “It’s always a good time for everyone. And today it’s really wonderful to see that most of our 81 residents are out here under the tents to share the fun.”

Among them was Kevin McGowan, 81. “I haven’t missed a picnic since I came here in 2008,” said the former Milford PA resident. Sporting his ever-present Yankee ball cap, the ardent baseball fan was obviously also enjoying the “great hotdogs!”

Joining Kevin was his brother Dennis and family friend Mary Hennessey of NJ. “I visit my brother at least twice a week,” said Dennis. “We both love baseball and enjoy watching the Yankee Channel together.”

Carbondale’s Michael Luczkovich, 90, moved to Creekside just nine months ago and noted that he has “no complaints. The picnic is fun and the food here is very good.”

Laughing, his daughter Joanne Schmidt of Scranton added, “Dad just loves to eat … his favorite dish is literally anything! The picnic is a good time for everyone to get together too, and I’m glad Dad is making new friends.”

Another newer resident, Ann Laguzzi, 81 of Carbondale, enjoyed the picnic with her husband, Joe. “Ann hasn’t been here long,” Joe noted, “and Creekside is providing physical therapy to help her walk again. In the meantime, I’m here almost every day. Ann loves to read, and we usually share the daily paper together.”

Smiling happily with a huge bouquet of fresh flowers from her daughter, former NJ resident Elizabeth Ott, 52, has been at Creekside since 2012. “My daughter Tiffany is in Carbondale, and she’s here often,” Elizabeth said. “But I also keep up with family and friends on Facebook when they can’t get out here. I’m always busy here, too, and enjoy painting ceramics and playing BINGO with other residents.”

While enjoyed by the attendees, this year’s annual picnic was more than just food, family, and fun. “We decided to tie together some of our fundraising with our family day because our residents are often looking for ways to give back to people in the community,” said Roman. “Much like a ‘council meeting,’ I brought our residents and staff together to discuss some ideas as to what we could do. Afterward, we all decided to raise money for three different foundations.”

While many of the Creekside residents are affected with memory loss and “because we coordinate a team every year to walk with hundreds of others at the PNC Field in Moosic, our group’s first selection was the Alzheimer’s Foundation,” Roman said. “The residents also chose to help fund breast cancer research because they have either dealt with it themselves or know someone who has. Their third choice to fund was Parents Loving Children through Autism because our residents wanted to do something related to children … and our Director of Nursing has an Autistic child.”

Throughout the afternoon’s event, residents and guests alike were able to help raise funds for each of their three chosen foundations. There were dozens of basket raffles with gifts donated from numerous area businesses along with a respective table for each foundation. Colorful ribbons, beaded chains, keyrings, and pinwheels could be bought for a small donation in support of a favorite charity. There was also a dunk tank that featured Creekside’s own Nichole Laub, where, for $2, pitchers could volley three balls to ‘dunk’ their Director of Nursing!

“We got a bit artsy for the Autism Foundation,” Roman added. “Since a puzzle piece is the Autistic symbol, donors could buy a small puzzle piece on which they could draw or write something. Later, we’ll glue all those pieces together to create a wall picture in our activity department.” Roman advised afterward that a generous $215 was donated during the day’s festivities.