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Seniors use free time to help others

BURLINGTON - Sylvesta Hollbach and Phyllis Strathman enjoy making ceramics. So much so that they volunteer their time at the Sybene Senior Center teaching others to do the same.

"Painting is very good therapy," said ceramics teacher Phyllis Strathman. "It's relaxing and enjoyable."

The ceramics class at the Sybene Senior Center in Burlington began in 1984. Coordinator Sylvesta Hollbach said that she came from Coal Grove at that time, and they asked her to run the class. Assistant Coordinator Phyllis Strathman has volunteered to help with the class since 1998.

The ceramics class currently has approximately 15 students. Hollbach said they started with 22. The class is open on Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.

"There's no clock when you get busy painting," Strathman said as she smiled.

The women both said that they volunteer because they need those couple of days away from "home work" and they enjoy helping others.

"It feels good so good when you can help somebody and show them how to do something - everybody can paint," Strathman said.

She also said that the students can use their ceramics to make beautiful gifts for people, such as family and friends.

Cleona Liston has been a student in the class for 17 years and she is often joined by her sister. She makes and uses the ceramics as gifts for her children and grandchildren. Liston said that she usually makes nearly 50 gifts during the holiday season. Last Christmas she made about 40 Christmas trees.

"My ceramics are all over the United States," Liston said as she painted her current project.

Hollbach said that the class works on Christmas year round. The class has won many awards-ribbons and certificates at different places that they have showcased their work. She said that they have a great ceramics class, and all seniors are welcome.

Both Hollbach and Stratham won a Liptak-Radden Volunteer Service Award from the CAO and Senior Center this year in recognition of the volunteer work they do. Hollbach is also the coordinator of the Memorial Garden at the center and Strathman also volunteers at the DAV and the VFW.

As the two women look over at a couple of their students who are painting their projects together, they look to be very happy with the work they are doing.

"That's what makes you feel good," Stratham said. "Just helping somebody."