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Puzzles help bring folks together at Cortland

Submitted photo Cortland resident Lonnie Foster takes a break from puzzle number 133 to share his love of the brain teasers.

THOMAS — One Hundred and thirty-two! That’s how many puzzles Cortland resident Lonnie Foster has completed since the start of COVID-19 in March 2020.

During the early stages of the COVID lockdown, when movement throughout the facility was limited for residents and visitation was temporarily halted, working on puzzles helped pass the time

“I’ve always done puzzles,” explains Foster. “I like to keep my mind busy. I like word search books and reading on my tablet, but working on a good puzzle is my favorite. I use to do 3-D puzzles but not anymore. We completed a glow-in-the-dark puzzle not long ago. That was fun.”

As a spry 96-year-old, Foster can always be found with a puzzle in some degree of completion on a card table in his room. He’s even got a large piece of cardboard tucked behind a chair to allow him to work larger puzzles. “This isn’t a solitary activity,” explains Foster with a smile. “I’ve got a whole crew of helpers to work my puzzles. Whether it’s other residents stopping by to help fit a piece to two or staff at Cortland, the rule is that if you stop by my room to visit, you can’t leave without putting at least two puzzle pieces into place.”

Fellow puzzle enthusiasts include Helen Roth and countless Cortland staff — nurses, CNAs, and therapy staff. It’s hard to tell how many hands have helped place a piece or two in Fosters’ puzzles.

“There are puzzles all over Cortland,” says Foster. The Activities Department has hundreds of puzzles spread throughout the facility in addition to the ones supplied by family and staff. Puzzles are a big draw; they bring people together. Working alone or with friends, you can always count on Mr. Foster working on a puzzle.

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