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Popcorn therapy potent medicine at Care Center 

Retired Menlo Park merchant continues giving of himself to the community

Art Rollins loves people. “I love my fellow man,” he said. “I enjoy people. I always have.” For more than thirty years Rollins proved this daily as proprietor, along with his brother Harold, of the Menlo Park Plaza Ace Hardware store. The Rollins’ sold the business in 1976, but Art continued to work at the store for another ten years, servicing and helping customers any way he could.

At 89 years of age, Art Rollins has again been enjoying people. To the residents, staff and caregivers at Care Center East Specialty and Rehabilitation facility in Gateway, Rollins is known as  “The Popcorn Man”. Every Monday, for the past ten years, Art has been going to Care Center East and making popcorn on site, for everyone at the facility.

This ritual began while Art’s wife Vera was a patient convalescing at Care Center East. A weekly patient activity was ‘Monday Night at the Movies’. While watching the movie one night with his wife, Art decided to start making popcorn for everyone to enjoy with the film. The following Monday, Art brought his popcorn popper, bags, popcorn seeds and asked Care Center East to supply butter, which they gladly did. It soon expanded to include popcorn for all patients, then for all Care Center East staff, and caregivers. Art’s brother also subsequently spent time as a patient convalescing at Care Center East after surgery.

Art understands both sides of the recovery fence. First, having loved ones as patients, then as a patient himself. ‘Monday Night Popcorn’ was, and still is a token of Mr. Rollins’ appreciation for the hard work, dedication, and concern the caregivers gave to him, his brother, and his wife when they were patients there. Now that Art has mended, his Monday night actions continue expressing appreciation for the hard work Care Center East staff and caregivers give their patients daily. To Rollins they are heroes.

Although there are no more movies on Monday night, and although Art himself was twice a patient at the facility, “The Popcorn Man” has not missed a Monday in ten years. Rollins is an amazing, vibrant, largehearted man.

This every Monday event seems like a small thing that Art does for the patients and staff at Care Center East, but the positive effect it has on both the patients and caregivers is telling. It is also easily and immediately noticeable. Smiles, thanks, and people seeing, feeling, and reciprocating Art’s goodness are palpable. This ‘therapy’ is obviously beneficial for both the giver and the receiver. Anytime someone demonstrates genuine caring for another; especially a stranger, those on the receiving end feel it.

“He’s just a prince of a guy,” said Care Center East Marketing coordinator Greg Buzzy. “The staff and residents love him. I know it’s Monday when I smell popcorn wafting through the hallways.”

While most of us would just be happy and grateful to be alive at 89, Rollins is also active at his church, Rose City Park United Methodist. Over the years Art has coached church youth basketball teams, been a youth fellowship counselor, been chair of the board of trustees eight times and has organized various fund raising committees.

“I love reading the newspaper every day from front to back” Rollins said. “I know it’s going to be a good day when I don’t see my obituary in there.”

What is Rollins’ secret to longevity? He replies with little hesitation. “My loving family, a sense of humor, my faith in God and fellow man, my good friends and my church.”

If you’re wanting to learn about volunteer opportunities at Care Center East located on Northeast 113th and Weidler St. you can contact Jan Jones, Activities Director at 503-253-1181.



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