Spinal injuries have made it difficult for 82-year-old Eve Lake to walk for the past 10 years, so she uses a motorized wheelchair. The Fountains at La Cholla resident helps keep her mind off her maladies by joining her friends in singing.
She's a member of the Fountains Crooners, a 25-member choir made up of members of the retirement home. Most are between ages 75 and 85, and they get together once a week for an hour to sing songs from the 1920s through the '40s.
A little more than a year ago Lake and her husband of 64 years, 85-year-old Robert, moved to the Fountains, 2001 W. Rudasill Road, from Sun City Oro Valley. They joined the Crooners shortly thereafter.
"They bring me happiness," Eve said of her co-singers. "It's just fun when you're doing something that feels good. It makes you feel good all day."
Established in 1987, The Fountains houses 480 residents, 400 of whom - including all of the Crooners - live independently. Other residents use assisted living and memory care.
Rachel Allen, community life assistant at the Fountains, started the group last year.
"I just knew that singing would make people feel good and happy," she said. "You just can't sing and not be in a good mood afterward."
On May 9, the Crooners sang for Thornydale Elementary School students. They also performed at the community's 25th anniversary event in November.
"It was just so much fun," Eve Lake said of the Thornydale gig. "The children were just unbelievable. I'm sure they were coached by their teachers to show appreciation by clapping, but they really did make us feel appreciated."
To Allen, it's natural that the group would spread inspiration and good cheer.
"It just makes me feel good to see them active and happy," she said. "They put a smile on everyone's face and really lift everyone's spirits."
Carroll Rinehart, 89, finds companionship in the group. His heart undoubtedly hurts since his wife of 65 years, Marilyn, died at age 85 a little more than a year ago. But he finds joy as part of the Crooners.
"To do something creative together, that's an important way to getting to know each other," he said.
A music educator for most of his life, working with Tucson Unified School District from 1954 to 1982, Rinehart moved to the Fountains seven months ago.
"Of course it gives me energy," he said of the group. "Energy is what life's all about. And what is so often missing is that people don't get invited to share the energy in their lives."
Allen said the rehearsals give the Crooners something to anticipate.
"They look forward to it every week and are very disappointed when we have to cancel," Allen said.
The singing skill level may vary, but the passion remains consistent with each member.
"We've got all varieties. Some people are really shy and don't feel very confident, but once we get them in the group they really let it all out," Allen said. "A couple of people were trained opera singers in their past. We've got all levels of talent. We want people to feel comfortable and not make them feel pressure to sound a certain way."
To Rinehart, the joy of performance makes talent level irrelevant.
"It doesn't matter if you can sing or not," he said. "You'd love it."
Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or firstname.lastname@example.org