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Posted on Sun, Aug 1, 2010 : 8:09 a.m.

Everything Elderly - Kiwanis Club of Ann Arbor, and TimePieces Personal Biographies

By Alan Caldwell


Ann Mattson from the Kiwanis Club of Ann Arbor

Everything Elderly is on every Saturday at 8:30 a.m., on 1290 AM WLBY, sponsored by Senior Helpers. This weekend, we had great conversations with two wonderful guests.

Earlier this year I joined the Kiwanis Club of Ann Arbor, so I really enjoyed having Ann Mattson, president of Kiwanis Club of Ann Arbor, with us. Mattson does a great job running the club, and is a wealth of knowledge. There are currently 164 members, and the club meets every Monday at noon, at the Kiwanis Activities Center at the corner of Washington and First streets.

The club’s biggest and most important activity is the Thrift Sale every Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to noon. The general public is invited to come and shop the huge selection of donated goods. It’s a fun time that generates significant funding, allowing the club to accomplish its mission, “change the world - one child and one community at a time”. The club provided $140,000 in grants this past year, to more than 60 agencies.

The club members get involved in an enormous number of community activities, including some specifically helping the elderly. The Greater Years Committee focuses on activities to help seniors. Earlier this year, the club worked with Neighborhood Senior Services and built home wheelchair ramps. Also, the club staffs two daily routes for the Ann Arbor Meals on Wheels program.

It was also quite interesting to hear about Mattson’s pre-retirement life as a judge with the 15th District Court in Ann Arbor. It was a “really interesting job, where you can impact people’s lives….I tried to make the experience of coming through the court system a positive experience”. As a judge, “you are a little bit teacher, a little bit social worker, and a little bit tough guy”.

The club also provides a host of social opportunities for its members - spaghetti suppers, pancake breakfasts, outings to Tigers games or the Purple Rose Theatre, and on and on.

To contact Ann Mattson, or the Kiwanis Club of Ann Arbor, please call 734-665-0450, or visit their website To listen to the 13-minute discussion, please click on this audio file Everything Elderly Ann Mattson 0731.mp3.


Stephanie Kadel Taras from TimePieces Personal Biographies

Photos by Sheila Doeden

Stephanie Kadel Taras, the owner of TimePieces Personal Biographies, was on our show last fall, and we were very excited to have her back. Taras started her business, writing personal biographies, about 10 years ago. The value of this work became apparent when Taras first wrote a personal biography for her grandma in Florida. Taras spent three days talking with her and recording the interviews. She turned this into a book that documented her grandma’s life. Her whole family really enjoyed the book, learning things about their grandma they hadn’t known.

The process to write each book starts with a good discussion, learning about the person, and what they want from the project. Taras then conducts four or five interviews, each about two hours long. These talks tend to focus on the early years - education, meeting their spouse, romance, and raising the family. Then she gets to work with additional research and turning the material into a real book, generally 100-120 pages long, with color photographs. The whole process takes about one year.

When the families receive these books, Taras invariably gets very positive feedback, especially from the person the book is about -- “I have had a meaningful life…. I did have a good life”.

Taras also teaches at workshops on life writing, on developing strategies for writing your stories. Taras commented on how we all take good care to make sure our belongings and our money is passed on as we wish, but we generally don’t do as well passing on our wisdom!

To contact Taras and TimePieces Personal Biographies, call 734-663-0875, or visit her website To listen to the full 13-minute talk click on this file Everything Elderly Stephanie Kadel Taras 0731.mp3.

Alan Caldwell is the owner of Senior Helpers, providing in-home care services, primarily for the elderly. He can be contacted at, or at 734-927-3111.