JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - There’s joy in nearly every moment when the next winner in the Gr8 Acts of Kindness is around. You might even say he’s “The King” when it comes to finding ways to help seniors enjoy their Golden Years.
It’s a Thursday at St. Bernards Villa, a memory care, retirement and assisted living facility. Time for bingo. But, not just “any” kind of bingo. It’s Elvis bingo!
Gaylon Tyner is dressed in a gold lame’ jacket. His Elvis hair features lambchop sideburns and the outfit is made complete with gold sunglasses.
“Elvis!” a woman yells and Tyner yells, “Wooooooo!”
Complete with gyrating hips and a show, too.
“That’s alright Momma!” Tyner sings while strumming a guitar. “That’s alright with me.”
Tyner makes days at the Villa full of fun and laughter.
“Bright lights set my soul on fire,” Tyner said as he checked a bingo card.
“I’m somebody that likes to stay busy, so I keep them busy,” Tyner said.
And things are just about to ramp up—a whole lot!
Tyner’s family members, friends and a contingent of seniors from Morningside of Jonesboro have gathered in the Villa’s auditorium in anticipation of surprising him during center’s the weekly bingo game.
The group makes its way down the Villa’s hallways.
The line so large that it stretches nearly from the auditorium all the way to Villa’s cafeteria.
“Bingo!” the group yells as Tyner has his back to their entrance.
“The King loves you,” Tyner said. “The King loves you, baby.”
“You may be the caller for bingo today,” I announce to him and the room. “But, you are the winner today!”
We are here to shine a spotlight on his ability to make others smile.
Tyner, aka “Elvis, is so loved that the room is packed.
Residents from Morningside are smiling as he notices them standing behind him.
There was a resident from that facility who Tyner made quite an impression on.
“He was putting up the bulletin board for the first time,” Lisa Bohne Clay said. “Miss Andy didn’t exactly like it.”
“My Mom. Her health was failing a bit,” Clay said. But she was still very spunky and everything.”
Lisa, her daughter, drove over four hours from Greenwood to be here on this day.
“He just so enriched her life the last two years,” Clay said.
Ms. Bohne passed away in 2015.
“I have to say that he helped me with the memorial,” Clay said.
And Bohne’s story is just one of many.
“He loves the residents,” Connie Antilley said.
Because of Gaylon, Antilley and her husband now have a senior ministry on Sunday mornings.
“He was really concerned that the residents who could no longer drive and go to their church home,” Antilley said.
So, church comes to them.
“It started with Gaylon and his concern and compassion for other people,” Antilley said.
“You pour your heart and soul into this place,” I said to Tyner. “That’s why you’re the next winner in the Gr8 Acts of Kindness.
“We’ve got a check here; but the money’s already been paid to you,” Allen Williams, Community President of First Community Bank said.
“Three hundred, four hundred, five, six, seven, eight. Four hundred eight dollars for winning the Gr8 Acts of Kindness this month,” I announced to Tyner.
Tyner’s vast background in theatre, which has included many a production at the Foundation of Arts, helps him to engage with seniors.
But, so do the many displays he’s responsible for filling with collections like the one this month in the hallway displaying Elvis memorabilia.
“They all remember Elvis,” Tyner said. “He’s a favorite!”
And then there are the activities.
“We have a little bit of everything in here that we try to do,” Tyner said.
From Book Club…
“Today, we talked about Teddy Roosevelt,” Tyner recalled.
To having stick horse races on Kentucky Derby Day and serious bragging rights…
“We are defending Super Bowl champions in bean bag football,” Tyner announces.
He pushes seniors to be active.
“I had a lady. She was throwing it six feet and now she throws it 12 feet,” Tyner said.
And they travel to compete.
“We won March Madness, but we didn’t win the World Series,” he said. “We’re working on that this season.”
And he doesn’t just entertain here, but at many other places frequented by seniors all over Region 8. He’s part of a musical group called “Three Misfits and a Lady.”
“We go around and play different places,” Tyner said.
His own Mother was a resident here.
“He would get her out of her little chair and dance with her,” Pam Johnson said. Johnson nominated Tyner for the Gr8 Acts of Kindness. “She had Parkinson’s and he knew how to count the dancing steps to keep her from stumbling.”
"It’s important to me that people here and really anywhere, seniors, that they don’t feel like life is at the end,” Tyner said. “I want them to always continue to learn something new.”
Tyner also works closely with Jonesboro police and attends regular meetings to learn how to educate the public on how to protect themselves from becoming a victim of crime. He is especially knowledgeable on issues facing senior citizens.
Tyner also raises money to donate to different organizations in our area and he involves the seniors at Villa.
He believes that just because they are elderly, they are not “washed up” and they can still be a vital asset to the city.
At Christmastime, he encouraged residents to paint pictures of animals on canvas.
The artwork sold after being displayed at the Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library and that money went to help the Northeast Arkansas Humane Society.