As the leader of the Greeley Active Adult Center’s (GAAC) Car Lovers Unite Group, volunteer at Northern Colorado Medical Center and a Weld County Hall of Famer, Dave Mantych is quite busy in his retirement. The St. Louis native took a job in Denver as a land surveyor and eventually found his way to Greeley, where he and his wife planted roots in the community. Dave sat down with us to tell us about his experiences facilitating the Car Lovers Unite Group at the GAAC.
What brought you to the City of Greeley?
Greeley was supposed to be a temporary stop; I took a job here with the intention of moving back to Denver when we retired, but as you can see we are still here. We like it up here. It’s not slow by any means, but it’s calmer than Denver and still has everything you need: good hospitals and the great entertainment at the Union Colony Civic Center.
How did you become a member of the GAAC?
Well, my wife found the Greeley Active Adult Center. She was volunteering with Senior Resources and was bringing someone to bible study here. After a while, she began staying instead of dropping her friend off. When I eventually joined her, I ran across the Car Lovers Unite Group and thought, “Oh, that’s interesting!” When I first started going, it was about four or five people and we would just sit around and talk about cars. I really enjoyed that two-hour period, so I started coming on a regular basis. I began coordinating the group about four or five years ago.
What about the Car Lovers Group made you want to be more involved?
We don’t just talk about cars, we talk about anything. We try to stay away from politics and religion as much as possible, but it’s a good group of people. By word of mouth, people just started coming. One guy would tell his neighbor, who would tell his neighbor and so on, it just grew. They found that they really liked having a place to just sit and talk and drink coffee.
How has Car Lovers Group changed over the years?
A member of the group, Jim, a retired teacher, asked if he could put together a presentation, now every other month or so, he will come in and teach us a little something. We also go on field trips to different car shows—this spring we are going to AIMS Community College because they have an automotive school there. Sometimes those are the best times: all of us on the bus, talking. Someone will see something and start talking about it, most of the members are from Greeley so you learn so much about the city while driving around. I know the guys and gals in the Car Lovers Unite Group really look forward to it once a month and that leaves me walking away feeling good about myself.
What does the Active Adult Center community provide for you personally?
I’ve been to other senior centers and this one is so much better than most. The people and the staff draw so many people into the center. Other places, you see people at meals, but then it clears out. Here, the staff is doing something right; Sheri really does such a nice job, and Tiffany is always fun. A lot of us, at this point, feel our life is lacking a sense of purpose. When you leave a job, if you aren’t prepared by having a hobby or something to do, you are lost. And a lot of people fall into that category, so they need something like the GAAC to give them a reason to get up—go do something. I think the GAAC here is a real blessing—I know for a fact that some of these people are real close friends here.
Written by Michelle Patterson