CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - The presence of a deserted pool table at Carson Plaza on East Long Street bothered 85-year-old Nils Sharpe.
It wasn’t because residents weren’t interested - something was discouraging them from playing, he said.
“I’d say 75 percent of residents are using walkers or are in chairs,” he said. “I can’t imagine sitting in a room day after day, staring at four walls all of the time. It has to be a lonely feeling.”
Sharpe doesn’t need to use walkers or canes. However, he understands the limitations some seniors face when it comes to activities and hobbies.
He knew of a friend who was interested in playing pool but couldn’t. So he invented a tool to help for those who cannot stand for long or bend. With PVC pipe and wood, he made a ramp to substitute a cue stick. The player can aim the ramp at a ball on the pool table and drop the cue ball to shoot.
“I believe it puts the novice pool player at the same level as a professional,” Sharpe said.
On the side, he also teaches how to play chess and darts. He launched a chess club in the retirement plaza and set up a dart station, reported the Nevada Appeal (https://bit.ly/2iFHHBD).
“It’s gratifying to help get others out of their seats,” he said. “You have to convince them it’s not only fun but good exercise for their bodies.”
Because of his efforts, the home now hosts tournaments said Melissa Clements, enrichment coordinator of Carson Plaza.
“He even pours champagne for us when we host parties at the home,” she said. “He made these activities possible for those who are unable to move or walk.”
As the pool tournament is in January, the home plans to officially introduce Sharpe’s ramp shooter.
Pearl Garrett, 93, didn’t know how to play pool until Sharpe taught her. Sharpe’s lessons have not only given her more energy, but happiness as well, Garrett said.
“It has brought a lot of joy back,” she said. “It takes practice to learn, but he’s patient and generous with his time to help others.”
“When I saw Pearl’s smile on her face after she won a game, it was a gratifying feeling,” Sharpe said.
Sharpe started his pool hobby during his childhood in his hometown of Winnipeg, Canada. Since then, it has grown into a lifelong hobby.
Maureen Lamerdin, doctor of oriental medicine at Sierra Acupuncture & Healing Arts, said Sharpe’s volunteerism provides many benefits to local seniors.
“He’s giving them a reason to live and not allowing any disability to get in the way,” she said. “He has taught many people to play chess, which is so good for dementia and Alzheimer’s.”
Sharpe claims his passion for teaching derived from his longtime career at transformer plants, when he trained new employees on the job.
“I think people are little intimidated at times but I’m here to teach,” he said. “An activity such as pool is proof of exercise. I wore a pedometer every time I played and I achieved 100,000 steps in a month, just from walking around the table.”
Jan. 1 marked Sharpe’s 58th anniversary since moving to the United States, specifically to San Jose, Calif. He moved to Carson City in 2003.
During his personal downtime, Sharpe keeps his body healthy for himself and volunteering by playing golf. On Mondays, he serves as a golf course marshal at Empire Ranch Golf Course.
“I wish people would realize that some of the old equipment surrounding them are great opportunities,” he said. “It’s a wonderful life.”
Sharpe teaches pool and other activities at Carson Plaza, 2120 East Long St., at 10 a.m. every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Information from: Nevada Appeal, https://www.nevadaappeal.com
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