Retired teacher offers splash of color to care home residents

An assortment of colored sheets are arranged on Loretta Lyon’s dining room table, including images of fish, owls and flowers. The retired kindergarten teacher distributes the colored sheets, along with notes of encouragement, to seniors in care homes.

Loretta Lyon has always found joy and relaxation in coloring. But over the last four years, she’s found a way that her coloring projects can also bring some comfort to others.

Lyon colors various sheets from adult coloring books and passes them out to seniors in care homes in the Derby area. Each sheet comes with a positive saying or expression on the back, and Lyon often folds them into cards. Some even come with a piece of candy.

Messages include: “You are not alone,” “Have sunshine in your soul today,” and “Someone is thinking of you – it’s me.”

Lyon said she started coloring adult coloring books to pass time while visiting her husband at a care home.

“I would be so stressed out, and my daughter suggested adult coloring,” she said. “She ordered, I think, five coloring books and a set of colored pencils, and I got started.”

Lyon said the cards have been a hit among residents at care homes.

Last year alone, Lyon said she delivered about 275 of the well-wishing cards to care homes in Derby and the surrounding area. She delivered about 165 cards in one week in March.

“Sometimes they feel left alone, particularly now during COVID when they couldn’t have visitors or anything,” she said. “It’s been a very positive result, but it also makes me feel good.”

Lyon, 81, is a retired kindergarten teacher. She said she’s loved coloring ever since her childhood.

“When I was a little girl, there weren’t too many coloring books,” she said. “But there was a Montgomery-Ward catalog and the pictures were not in color, and so I would take my crayons and color in the Montgomery-Ward catalog.”

Lyon spent 20 years of her teaching career in Derby, and the other 14 years in Colorado, Wellington, Kan., and Harper, Kan. She started in Derby at Wineteer Elementary School and Cooper Elementary School but moved to Derby Hills Elementary School when it opened. She ultimately retired at Derby Hills.

Lyon is an active member at the Derby Senior Center. Anyone who would like to request a colored card for themselves or a loved one can call the center (316-788-0223) and leave a message for Lyon with their phone number.

Lyon said she has options for everyone.

“I have some geared more for a man,” she said. “It’s not flowers, it’s fish and things like that.”