Ida Denitti of Smithton got a lift Monday that will help improve the quality of her life, enabling her to continue living in her home for some time.
The 85-year-old had a motorized stairlift installed at her home, thanks to a donation from the Westmoreland County chapter of the Twilight Wish Foundation and A+Stairlift of Monroeville.
“It’s great. I’m looking forward to using this chair,” Denitti said after taking her first ride up the steps to her home’s second floor, where her bathroom and bedroom are located.
Denitti, who just celebrated her birthday last week, said she needs a lift to the upstairs because of the poor condition of her knees. She’s had six surgeries in recent years and her doctor is recommending seventh one on a knee, but Denitti does not want to go through another.
Denitti was selected to be a Twilight Wish recipient because of her long-standing volunteer work in the community — at Excela Health Frick Hospital in Mt. Pleasant for close to 40 years and with the former Smithton Ambulance Service, said Phyllis Mrosco, volunteer with the local chapter of Twilight Wish.
“This is a way for the community to give back to her. She is very, very community-minded and has been for a long time,” said Mrosco, a physician liaison with Excela Health Home Care and Hospice program.
Denitti said she still enjoys volunteering at Excela Frick, where she has been a volunteer escort, delivered meals and helped in other ways.
“I’ve always had an interest in health care,” Denitti said, explaining what attracted her to be a volunteer at the hospital.
Excela Health recognized her contributions in April 2011 when it honored her at the health system’s Celebrating Our Everyday Heroes 2011 Volunteer Awards ceremony. She was one of four people who received the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award who had reached the 4,000-hour volunteer milestone. She also received a letter and certificate from President Obama honoring her with the President’s Volunteer Service Award.
At the Smithton Ambulance Service, she was the treasurer, committee chairperson, ambulance attendant and dispatcher over a span of 30 years, from its formation in 1967 to its closing in 1997, said Denitti, who has lived in Smithton since 1954. Her late husband, Peter, operated a heating and plumbing business.
When she is not occupied volunteering and spending time with her family — four children, 13 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren — Denitti also likes to crochet. She puts her talent to good use making tiny blankets to accompany stuffed animals that are delivered to shut-ins and others who are ill to bring them some comfort and cheer. She crochets lap pads for nursing home residents and sends items to soldiers overseas.
Mrosco said that Denitti is one of at least a dozen Westmoreland County residents whose dreams have come true because of the Twilight Wish Foundation of Doylestown. The nonprofit, which was founded in 2003, has granted wishes to 2,300 community-minded economically disadvantaged seniors age 68 and older.
Among the other wishes the local chapter granted was providing a hospital bed, a horse ride, a trip to a Beach Boys concert, a restaurant dinner to a terminally ill patient, a 100th birthday party for a centenarian and her family and a trip to Florida on Spirit Airlines from Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, Mrosco said.
Denitti’s daughter, Annette Phillips of Smithton, said she learned about the Twilight Wish Foundation through a Westmoreland County Area Agency on Aging newsletter and applied for her mother.
D’Alicandro gave the stairlift, which he valued at $3,500, and his time installing it. D’Alicandro said the stair lift he installed in Denitti’s home was donated by a listener to KDKA-AM radio host Marty Griffin’s program. D’Alicandro said Griffin had mentioned in a program that he had installed a stairlift for a double amputee war veteran.
“I love what I do. I can see someone getting on the stairlift and it makes me feel good,” D’Alicandro said.
Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.