Meet A Member

Meet Melanie

Have you taken a tap dance class at LifeWorks Erie lately? If you have, you most likely had Melanie Titzel as your instructor!

Melanie Titzel has not only been a member of LifeWorks Erie, she works full time for LECOM as the Director of Senior Living Communities and when time permits she’s in the activity room counting the beats to the new routine she’s teaching. I often see her stop in just to say hi! Recently I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Melanie.

As you probably guessed, one of Melanie’s passions is dancing. She is trained in classical ballet, modern jazz, as well as tap. She has been dancing basically all of her life. When Melanie was in her 30’s she decided to pursue her passion and childhood dream. She went back to school and received her certificate from Dance Masters of America at the University of Buffalo. While it took her 7 years to complete this, it was by far one of her biggest dreams come true. She also has her doctorate in Leadership from Gannon University. It sounds to me that Melanie likes a challenge and has a desire to learn.

Melanie loves to read, especially inspirational books. Some of her favorites are “The Road Less Traveled” and “Battlefield of the Mind”. No surprise, with her dancing back ground, “Singing in The Rain” and “The Sound of Music” are two of her favorite movies! It did surprise me to learn that Melanie lives in a log cabin! Doing what she loves best; Melanie played Grandmother in the Nutcracker a few years back. She is fond of traveling, especially on a cruise. (I think we need her to put one together for our LifeWorks family. I’m sure she would be happy to teach tap dance on the cruise ship as well!)

I asked Melanie what some of her favorite quotes were and immediately she said “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”. She was also quick to tell me “Life is too short to get hung up on the little things, if everyone would just follow the Golden Rule, to treat others the way you want to be treated life would be a lot easier.” What a great way to look at life! So when you see Melanie around the center give a quick wave and ask her when she’s coming back to teach tap for us! I know even though Melanie keeps herself busy working full time, it’s great to see her take time to learn, engage and teach for us.

It was a pleasure to have this conversation with Melanie. I learned a lot about a valuable member of LECOM LifeWorks!

Meet the Dennings

Bob and Kathy Denning joined the LifeWorks Family in August 2011 after reading an article in the newspaper about our programs and various activities. Bob and Kathy are active participants of the Walking Program, also known as the Breakfast Bunch. They faithfully come to the Center daily to walk and socialize with friends old and new.

It didn’t take us long to discover that Kathy had a hidden talent in making beautiful Beach Glass jewelry and accessories. Kathy began working with Beach glass as a therapeutic activity after she was diagnosed with tremors. Bob and Kathy use a team approach, he finds the beach glass and she does the drilling, cleaning and assembling of the pieces. Kathy has her own side business: Beach Glass by Cass” .

Bob and Kathy began their journey as high school sweethearts but after High School they went in different directions, marrying other people.  Years later, after Kathy’s first husband passed away and Bob had been divorced, fate brought them back together when they were reunited at a Benefit Dance held at the National Guard Armory. Shortly after, Bob asked Kathy’s hand in marriage…and the rest, as they say, is history. Bob and Kathy have been married for 22 years. Together they have 7 children, 15 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren. 

Kathy worked for St. Vincent’s for 10 years and Bob retired from GE after 35 years. Bob enjoys collecting movies; currently he has over 500 DVD’s. He also enjoys burning CD’s for family and friends of music that they enjoy at no charge to them. 

They both love music from the 50’s and 60’s and enjoy dancing. Truth be told, they have won many dance contests for their jitterbug moves on the floor. We wish Kathy and Bob many more years of health and prosperity.

Meet Mary Carlson

Mary Carlson

Although Mary Carlson retired in 1997 from the Erie VA Hospital, you won’t find her sitting idly at home. In addition to coming to the center for fitness classes, lectures and special events, Mary is also a teacher’s helper at Pfeiffer Burleigh School where the kids affectionately call her “Grandma.”

Mary is a retired nurse. She received her degree from Augustana Hospital School of Nursing in Chicago, Illinois in 1958. In 1965, she earned her BSN from the State University of New York in Buffalo. In 1981, she received her MSN in Psychiatric Nursing from Kent State University School of Nursing and finally, in 1990, she earned her Certification as a Clinical Nurse Specialist from the American Nurses Association.

During her career, Mary worked for Edinboro State University as an Assistant Professor in Nursing, Warren State Hospital as a Clinical Nurse Specialist and from 1984 until her retirement in 1997, at the VA Medical Center as a therapist specializing in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. After retirement, Mary joined the faculty at Gannon University on a part-time basis. Mary has received past awards as a counselor in Stress Control. At the time of her retirement, she was awarded by the AMA as “Scholar of the Year” for her past research projects.

Mary has never married, although she shared that there was a very special love early on in her life, but he died in Vietnam. Mary contributes that life experience to her career paths which led to her role at the VA as a Post Traumatic Stress Counselor.

Mary is a member of Christ the Redeemer Lutheran Church and writes their newsletter, “Heavenly Father.” Mary is interested in photography, creative arts and literature. Mary Carlson has been a member of LifeWorks Erie since October 2009. Most days, Mary can be found at the center enjoying lunch, participating in one of the fitness classes, or engaged in lively discussion with other center members.