Damians Ladder
Damians Ladder

I have always been in awe over the way the elderly citizens of Japan are taken care of by their families as mothers and fathers become grandmas and grandpas, their faces no longer smooth and supple, but because of age, wrinkles have become the norm and bones become bent and brittle.

Meiwaku in the Japanese language is translated into English as “being a nuisance,” and from an early age, this guilt-laden philosophy is taught to each child.

A friend offering to help an elder is often rebuked because it would be thought “meiwaku” to accept. Only when the offer is made again is it polite to accept.

A “no meiwaku” attitude becomes an effort to remain independent, both financially and mentally. Fear of being a burden on society and family is universal in Japan’s culture, therefore Japan’s elders have turned to strengthening their bodies and minds through exercise programs, dancing, music, sewing and art. New research today shows muscles can continue to strengthen as one ages.

Here in the U.S., our seniors are fortunate to have local Senior Centers where a senior can go for all of the above classes, as well as being able to socialize with one another.

Here, in the San Lorenzo Valley and Scotts Valley, are a group of incredible community members who have NOT forgotten our First Generation. This group of community leaders came together, under the name of Damians Ladder, to carry on the works of Damian Lanctot and his wife Melissa, helping low-income seniors and those with disabilities, remain in their homes, safely and comfortably.

Damian lost his life in a motorcycle accident in Ben Lomond 18 months ago; however, his good works are being carried forward by the members of a nonprofit organization named Damians Ladder.

This organization began in earnest in December 2023, just four short months ago, having raised enough money to pay for their 501c3 status, Liability Insurance, a website and other expenses necessary to begin helping our seniors.

To date we have fixed leaks, cleaned gutters, made minor auto repairs, built wheelchair ramps, installed weatherstripping, made electrical repairs, raised a toilet, made drywall repairs, cleared yards of debris, and even held hands and wiped a grateful tear or two from a senior in need.

One of our members, via Damians Ladder, cooks a Soup and Salad Luncheon for now 40 seniors at the Scotts Valley Senior Center on the second Friday of each month at 11:30 in the morning. All are invited to participate.

This group, who came together to help our First Generation in their homes, have formed a bond together. We care about those in need, and we care about each other. We laugh, we complain, we work together to solve a problem, and most importantly, we are making a difference.

Damians Ladder members are committed to our seniors, and we are a force to be reckoned with.

If you are a retired plumber, electrician, handyman, social worker, Boy or Girl Scout leader, gardener, painter, auto repair person, or someone who needs to socialize, Damians Ladder needs your expertise and a few hours of your time.

Help Damians Ladder to keep our seniors in their homes, safely and comfortably and from becoming part of the Forgotten Generation.

Let us not practice “meiwaku” as do the seniors in Japan, but be forthcoming and ask for the help needed.

How does Damians Ladder accomplish the above: donations and fundraising.

To date, each senior helped has cost Damians Ladder an average of $21. Imagine, one hundred dollars will help three-plus seniors in their homes. And, most important, the more volunteer handymen we have, that $21 will decrease our cost.

To reach help through Damians Ladder, phone 831-200-1376 or email [email protected]. Use our website damiansladder.org for more information.

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Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at [email protected].


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