Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Emily (Reflections)

Speaking of rainbows (you gotta check out the last blog post if you haven’t yet!) I can’t be more proud, or more touched, by the miracle that is our project team. A few blog posts ago, you heard from Dee about her experience as our Writing Class Co-leader; here now is Emily and her experience as our PR Manager. I love the part where Emily calls our team “an intensely passionate group that includes people of all ages, from all walks of life.” For me, these words mean so much. My team means so much to me. Our team formed gradually, as one by one blog readers (most of them I had never met before) reached out to me with personal letters expressing passion and offering help. And now, around 30 “random” strangers have turned into the most close-knit team I’ve ever seen. How wild is that? Want to know something wilder? Even if I had searched the entire earth, I couldn’t have assembled a stronger team. I am convinced by that.

Thank you, Emily, for these outrageously beautiful words.  And thank you for everything you do. As those of us behind the scenes know, you do A LOT for our project!

So readers… please sit back and enjoy this one. This is a really special post. And as Emily said, do email her back with YOUR reflections. We’d love to hear from you.
Emily Antoszyk
Reflections of the Project

I happened upon The Best Day Of My Life (So Far) in the fall of 2009 when it was little more than a blog and a class. In the beginning, I offered to type stories; I was already volunteering for a living through AmeriCorps, and I loved the feeling of contributing to the community. I also have a close relationship with my grandmother, and the idea that someone might start a project like this for her was inspirational. As I started reading and typing, I began to get interested. Who were these people? What were they like in real life?

Before I had even attended a class I knew the project was something I wanted to be a part of. In the spring of 2010, I signed on for more responsibility recruiting teen interns to take part in the storytelling. I also offered to take on the role of Public Relations Manager as the project grew. Both tasks proved to be challenging at first, and I feel so fortunate that The Best Day Of My Life (So Far) gave me room to grow
into the roles that I chose to tackle.

Working for TBDOML(SF) has taught me useful skills, but more than that, it has dispelled my perceptions of what it means to be “old” or a “senior”. On my first visit to the class I was pleasantly surprised by the group’s vibrant and youthful tone. Even though I am decades younger than the attendees, I immediately felt like I could relate to the stories in class.

When the teens started coming to class it added a new dynamic. While we had a small, diverse group of teens, the stories that struck me most were the ones that were completely different from my upbringing; inner-city kids with tough home lives and adult responsibilities before they reached adulthood. Their frankness in class was something that surprised me because I know how difficult it can be to talk to teens, and some of these teens were opening up with some extremely personal stories in their first class! Their willingness to talk about some really difficult experiences was something that touched me deeply, but that also speaks to the open and accepting nature of the class.

The Best Day Of My Life (So Far) has also introduced me to amazing and committed volunteers, and it has given me the opportunity to be a part of a project that is changing the way that younger generations relate to seniors and the way that seniors bond with each other and the surrounding community. This project has been a pathway to friendship for many of its participants - seniors and volunteers alike. On a personal level, I have become friends with people I would not otherwise have met, and have become acquainted with several committed mentors. As a whole, the volunteer team is an intensely passionate group that includes people of all ages, from all walks of life. You have to realize that around thirty volunteers take time out of their jobs and lives to contribute to this effort, that’s an incredible
amount of commitment!

I would like to sum by saying thank you all for your readership and support, our project would not be nearly as momentous without our readers. Did you know that The Best Day Of My Life (So Far) blog has readers from over 30 countries and has 10,000 hits? Pretty incredible considering we have only been in operation for a little over a year now. The way I see it, The Best Day Of My Life (So Far) is part of a bigger movement - to connect seniors, teens, and communities all over the world.

Please feel free to write any questions / comments you have to me at emily@thebestdayofmylifesofar.com. I've thoroughly enjoyed getting mail from people around the globe wanting to know more about the project or how they can start similar efforts in their own communities. Currently, we are mentoring a fledgling project in Seattle and look forward to hearing about their progress. Some of our next steps in expanding the project will include nurturing satellites in the northeast. Stay tuned!