Chai Point Activities Coordinator Jim Heisler is known for his one-of-a-kind dress up choices and bold sense of humor. Adored by Ovation Communities’ residents and staff for his quirky take on life, Jim is getting ready to embark on his 19th year with the organization and the costumes keep on coming.

Q What sparked the idea to start dressing up?

A I’ve always enjoyed performing and theatrics. Singing and joke telling are two of my favorite things so incorporating fun hats, wigs, colored suits and shoes just make it all
more exciting.

My journey as the costume man here began one day when Tricia Cohn, Chai Point’s Executive Director, was leading a cooking class. I had just seen a Julia Child movie and was feeling inspired. I grabbed an old tablecloth to wrap around myself, threw on a green wig, a skirt and a shawl. With a bottle of wine in hand I walked in speaking
with a fake voice and interacting with the residents. Everyone laughed at my jokes and the entire costume menagerie has stemmed from that moment.

What are your best costumes that people have really responded to?

I have over 100 costumes so there’s a lot to choose from. A few of the favorites are my colorful jester outfit, roaring 20s mafia guy getup, Elmer Dudd who tells dull jokes, Harry Hurley a motorcycle rider, Salvador Dolly inspired by the famous painter, and Safety Penn a play on Sean Penn.

Q What sort of reactions do you get when you dress up?

There is always laughter, people love it. Residents can’t wait to see what I’m going to wear next. It’s getting harder to surprise folks!

Q What do you think dressing in costumes adds to the community?

The humor and mirth make life less complicated and give residents something to look forward to. The joy relaxes people and provides them an escape from some of their worries and pains. Laughter really is the best medicine and getting to educate while entertaining has been an amazing experience.

To see the joy in people’s lives and the smiles on their faces adds to the joy in my heart. People know I’m a fun person to be around. Whether we’re coordinating trips to the grocery store or I’m teaching a class, they know when I’m with them it’s going to be a fun time.

“Jim is really a renaissance man, there is nothing he cannot do. He makes the residents and staff laugh on a daily basis. His keen wit and ability to create a program from nothing to something is truly an art.” — Tricia Cohn, Chai Point Executive Director