Leo Has Made Ripples of Change

Ask anyone around Klamath Falls about Leo and they’ll likely fire off some funny anecdotes or a personal story about him.

Leo, in a way, has become Mr. Klamath Falls and embodies the spirit of MENTOR Oregon.  He strives to live well, accomplish goals and be an active member of his community.  Leo has lived this way for the better part of a century.  At 94 years old, he has had no choice but to adapt to change.  At the same time, Leo’s active lifestyle and unique needs have certainly created positive change for MENTOR Oregon and the Klamath Falls community.

It was 1999 when Leo and his roommate of over 30 years started receiving supports from MENTOR Oregon’s Supported Living program.  A few years later, when his care team noticed that his needs were increasing, his case manager recommended that MENTOR Oregon open a new residential home to support Leo, his roommate and two more of his friends.  Consider this change No. 1 created by Leo, as he and his three friends formed an even tighter bond in the new group home where they lived comfortably for many years.

More recently, when Leo’s individualized service plan was being updated, the state had to adjust its regulations for intensive supports which at the time did not cover individuals who are 94 years old.  Consider that change No. 2.  Obviously, Leo didn’t have any plans to take it easy merely because of a number.

“He has a great sense of humor and does not let any obstacles get in his way,” said Rhonda Keffer, Leo’s program director at the residential home.

Leo has picked up numerous hobbies through the years.  He has always enjoyed a good laugh and a conversation with friends about cars or current events.  He also enjoys having meals at the Klamath Grill and Denny’s with his pal Wesley.  Not surprisingly, Leo is also quite the history buff.  A real love of his, though, is bowling.  No, he hasn’t created any widespread change around the alleys but he has become the oldest Special Olympics bowler in the state.  He has numerous medals to show for his years of being a Special Olympian.

Leo also held a steady job at the local wood mill through much of his adulthood.  After retiring, he spent parts of his days walking around Klamath Falls with a friend to clean up trash from the streets.  The two would bring the trash home and pay to have it removed.  City officials eventually became aware of the pair’s good show of civic duty and provided a dumpster to eliminate the cost of removal.  The two were recognized for their work in the local newspaper.  Consider that change No. 3.

“Leo is very well known throughout the community and he is adored,” Keffer said.  “There are very few people who are long-term Klamath Falls residents who do not know him or have not been touched by him.”

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