January 2022 Newsletter

Our series on

The Clubs of the Park…

The Silveridge Silversmiths


Dale Dauten

The Silversmithing shop is tucked behind the woodworking shop in the buildings past the pool area. Busy talking, Sue Arneson and I walked in the wrong side of a pair of doors we found there. That one, the wrong one, was Stained Glass, and the folks inside were having so much fun that we made mental notes to come back and learn more. But, when we eventually made it to the right door, we got to visit with Dennis “Denny” Helmers of the Silveridge Silversmiths. We found him focused on his work on a bracelet, one we later learned was not just any bracelet, but rather, a clever bit of family memorabilia.

Denny explained that a friend of his had passed away and no one wanted the family’s silverware. “People will polish jewelry,” Denny told us, “but they won’t polish silverware.” So Denny took the silverware and turned it into jewelry: “ I made eight bracelets for the women and eight crosses for the guys and everyone got something to remind them of grandma.”

That’s Denny at work in the first photo, followed by a picture of a bit of his output. If you look closely you can see how some of the pieces reveal their origins as silverware.

Getting Involved

Denny not only makes and sells jewelry, he teaches silversmithing to other Silveridge residents. There are a couple of dozen regular users of the shop (at least in those seasons when Covid isn’t getting in the way). Denny welcomes anyone to give it a try. It’s $25 for the first year and $15 a year thereafter. But that initial fee includes making a ring on your first visit. “They pick a stone and make a ring. I educate them on using the tools and how to solder. Then, after that first morning, they graduate to whatever they want to work on.”

In the photo, you can see the some of the stones, and in the back, a finished ring.

After that first ring, new members can stop in any Monday or Wednesday morning and work on their projects. (The silversmithing room is only open those days because, as Denny explained, “I have to have someone to supervise.”)

If you’d rather buy jewelry than make it, Denny sells all that he makes. (“My wife has so much silver she can’t use any more.”) And, he and some of the park’s silversmiths offer their work at the SIlveridge Residents’ Craft Fair. (There’s one coming up on Saturday, March 12th.)

A Quick Profile: Denny Helmers

Denny was an Iowa farm boy, raised on a dairy farm in Charles City (50 miles south of the Minnesota border). It’s the nature of growing up on farm that you learn self-reliance early, and that includes learning how to fix things. When we ask Denny our favorite question, the one about the best advice he’d ever gotten, he told us, “If something is broken and won’t work, take it apart and see why. Even if you can’t fix it, you’ll learn something.” The source of that advice? Denny’s mom. He said of her, with a chuckle at the memory, “She’d tear anything apart.”

After finishing with school, Denny went to work for his step-dad, owner of a plumbing and heating business. That lasted five years. “I decided not working for family was going to work out fine,” Denny recalled. “Sometimes you have to move on.” That led to him to join a new company and eventually to buying out one of the partners. Twenty-five years later, he’d sell out his portion of the company to his partner. Silveridge and silversmithing followed soon after: “We’d been coming down to Silveridge for years, and two weeks after I retired we were here in the camper. I had to have something to keep me busy and I that’s when I started with silver.”

But, backing up, it was in 1966 that Denny’s brother, a college student at the time, brought some fellow students with him to play cards. And that’s where Denny met Mary, the future Mrs. Helmers. The two had a son, still living in Iowa, but Mary also had a brother who was one of the earliest residents of Silveridge. Plus, Denny has a sister in Mesa. So it was natural that Arizona became a frequent destination for their travels. And, as so often happens, you spend some time at Silveridge, you want more time there. Back in ’08, after a couple of years staying in their camper, they bought their current home. In addition to his time at the silversmithing room, Denny got hooked on water volleyball, and, he added, “I attempt to play golf. Attempt.”

The couple still split their year, spending the summer half back in Iowa. “We work at avoiding snow,” Denny explained. “All those year doing plumbing and heating, I ran service calls in the snow. Now, we’re here in the winters and I look out at the Superstitions and if I see a little snow on top, that’s nice. That’s enough snow.”

Photo below: A December morning at Silveridge, looking out over the Great Lawn to shuffleboard and beyond to lawn bowling.

Off to a Good Start

Message from Sue

Happy New Year 2022~

Truth to tell, I have never been good at keeping my new years resolutions. I am good to write them down, but then life gets in the way. What I do believe in is giving myself a new start. New goals bring purpose to our lives and a reason to start anew.

How fitting that many churches celebrate the feast of Epiphany after Christmas. It not only marks the magi’s journey leading them to the Christ child, but an epiphany also symbolizes a revelation; a profound understanding of something resulting in elation, awe and wonder. An example of an epiphany moment is when many years ago I lost my diamond ring. After thinking about it and back tracking where I may have put it, I finally found it in a drawer where I had put it for safe keeping. What joy and relief! I like to think of these “epiphany moments” as brainstorming new ideas that will lead us to accomplishing our goals. Here are a few suggestions to get the wheels in motion:

  • Challenge yourself to have a “Think Day.” Contemplate on what you want to accomplish and ask your self if it would be a good fit for you. Seek that inner strength first if you know it is something you can physically or mentally accomplish.
  • Read inspirational material. I glean ideas for my message to you every month through inspiring articles. Someone told me once that we become like the people we hang out with and the books we have read!
  • Teachers have long lasting influence on our lives. I am grateful to my parents and to some of those Benedictine nuns who formed my life through work and study and who challenged me to think and ask questions.
  • Thank you to all the teachers here at Silveridge! You can find mentors galore through our club/activity leaders. What an “aha moment” when I studied the myriad of patterns displayed in some of the quilts of valor. The quilters amaze me with their creativity! Go to the new Tech for Seniors class every Monday. Learning the new technology in new cars can be overwhelming!
  • Check out the Residents Showcase window (decorated by Joy Reski) and observe the items displayed that show off our residents talents! Unique gourds, rocks, and paintings are just a few items displayed.
  • Attend the Club Expo on January 8th and get ideas and information from all the clubs/ activities and events Kudos to all our Club Leaders who have come up with ideas to keep their club safe and fun! With over 50 clubs to peruse, you will find “your bend!”

Be Transformed by the renewing of your mind

As your Activity Director, I ask myself what epiphanies and new goals I would like to incorporate to our schedule of events. Dealing with Covid has forced me to think “outside the box.” There will be more outside events such as the Dickens Carolers and music on the green with the House Band. Drawing inspiration from your ideas has been beneficial in planning. Please let me know if you have an idea for an events that would be good for our Silveridge family.

Let us renew our minds and challenge ourselves to think about new possibilities. Then we can act on those ideas so we can create a better life for ourselves and a life that honors others. Just like the Three Kings who proceeded on their mission journey; may we also move for-ward with confidence guided by that holy light. Who knows what epiphanies await us! .


2021-2022 Ticket Order Form


If you know someone in the park you’d like to learn more about via one of our People of the Park profiles, please let me know.

Or, if you have photos you’ll like to share in upcoming newsletters, please send them.

Dale Dauten, Editor