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Seniors Learn Sign Language

MAHONING TOWNSHIP, Pa. — The community center at Maria Joseph Manor near Danville is a popular place for residents to spend time. On Monday, the room is e...

MAHONING TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- The community center at Maria Joseph Manor near Danville is a popular place for residents to spend time.

On Monday, the room is extra busy. It's time for the weekly sign language class.

A few months ago, Janice Carpender came to live at Maria Joseph Manor. Janice is deaf and uses sign language to communicate. That was a problem for fellow residents who wanted to talk to her.

"To speak to her and see her great smile every day, that's what it takes, you have to know sign language a little bit," Gaylord Laumech said.

A group of residents approached activity director Barb Albert about learning sign language.

"We wanted to be able to communicate and we wanted to be able to help her in assistance if she needed anything," Albert said.

"The residents really, really wanted to communicate with Janice," Elrica Swank said.

Once a week, Janice's niece Elrica Swank comes to the facility to teach sign language.

"We like to say, 'good morning,' they motion that, and sorry, and there's so many other things that we're learning as we go along," Anna Mae Anderson said.

The seniors have been learning sign language for about a month. They're enjoying it, but not as much as Janice is.

"Oh, yes, she feels it's very good," Swank said.

"She has big smiles on her face when we can talk with her," Anderson said.

The seniors plan to continue this class for as long as they are able.