Saturday, July 30, 2011

Doris (Up in the Air)

You guys, it’s so hot here in Philly! Well, nothing beats the heat wave like an air conditioner story... and a laugh! This is what Doris wrote the first time she joined our class – and you know we’re a rowdy bunch, so can you imagine how loudly we were laughing? Oh yeah, we like funny, and we’ve enjoyed welcoming Doris into our group so much.
Doris Lang
Up in the Air!

My husband and I decided to put an air conditioner in and forgot to look to see if we had a window sill.  My husband threw it out of the window.  He was afraid he might have killed someone as we live on the second floor.  He bent over a table under the window to see if he hurt anyone, and the boy downstairs was holding it.  He told my husband to release the cord.  He said what cord?  The cord was under his stomach, and he did not know it.  The boy brought it up and it was fine. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Henrietta (The Dancing Spirit)

Once in a while, I leave class and think, "That was a perfect class,"
and that feeling lasts with me the rest of the day, and it's the happiest
thing. Last Thursday and today were both that kind of a class. Nothing big happened, it’s just the group morale, the respect, the ease.

Quiet writing time was quiet. Even when a new or regular member walked in late, other members were able to welcome them with hugs and kisses, then continue to focus on their writing. Detailed soul-baring stories were written and shared out loud. And afterwards, we lingered, took pictures, socialized, snacked. Everything just clicked.

In 2 years our class has not only grown exponentially in size, but also exponentially in depth, into something very emotionally complex. Every half a year or so, I’d feel something like an actual emotional growth spurt that takes the whole room with it. It’s hard to describe. Something about the vibe in the room. The past two weeks have definitely felt like that. One of the moments that moved me was when Henrietta read this poem out loud.

Henrietta Faust
The Dancing Spirit

Suddenly, one day, there it was: a dancing spirit.
It’s as if I can taste it!
It’s a moving to any beat!
The dancing spirit laid dormant, then surfaced
“like a stalking, old boyfriend popping up again.”
And there it was the one dancing spirit again.
It could do the bob and weave to the beat.
And there it goes moving of feet.
To the boogie-beat.
Sounding like a washed up and out fraudulent rap beat!
Aaah!  I needed that.  Gotcha!
Hand me my walking stick.
Hand me down my hat. 
My dancing spirit is back!  And I just got it back!
Thank you dancing spirit.
And see who is verbally nailed.
You can hear it.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Surprise Note from... West Africa!

Once in a while, you guys surprise us with notes that sweep us off our feet. Your words give us so much encouragement, did you know that? Last week, you did it again. Wattson, we later found out, now lives in West Africa. Click Here for the story that reconnected him across the world to his Favorite Teacher, who is one of the newer members of our class! Thank you, Wattson, for reaching out to us and letting us share your note here!

Date: Fri, Jul 15, 2011 at 3:27 PM
From: Wattson Budinger


 - I was filling out an email form and it asked me for a security question, and one of the questions was 'Who was your favorite teacher?' and the first name that popped into my head was Ellis Zelmanoff. I did a google search and I found ‘The Best Day of My Life So Far' blog post he wrote, and I am happy to say that 
I was a student in Mr. Zelmanoff's first teaching job - 6th grade at Cramer Middle School in Camden in 1971 - 72. Small world!

Wattson Budinger

Click Here and Here to see some other moving notes you’ve sent us that we have never forgotten about. Inspired by what Wattson, Kathleen and Brenda have written, and feeling the urge to write us? The simplest way to do that is via Facebook: simply "Like" us Here and post a comment! Email is always welcome too! You can reach our PR Manager at Hope to hear from you soon!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bernice (It’s Good to Be Here)

As you know from the previous blog post, Bernice was home recovering from a medical scare for several months… and guess what? Last week she came back to rejoin the class. I simultaneously jumped up and screamed and picked her up in my arms when I saw her. Bernice my sweet and hilarious bud is back and looking great!

Bernice Moore
It’s Good to Be Here

It’s been a while since I’ve been here to see all the ones I have not seen in weeks. It is good to see them smiling faces, some new, some old. I hope I can see them each day. There is a lot of things to do each week. We have a lot to talk about. I have a new great grand baby, he is 7 months old. He loves to look at the TV.
Click Here to read the scary story that happened several months ago.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Loretta (A Bright Side Somewhere)

I have learned so much from Loretta. I admire her for talking and writing openly with about her struggles with homelessness. I admire her for always being the earliest one to class – when I open the door to the room, I am always greeted by her bright, fresh smile. And often in front on her in the middle of the table, is a box of cookies or fruit that she has brought in for the class, just because. A few months ago when Bernice had her medical emergency, it was Loretta who bought her a purse and a toy bus in reference to all the adventurous bus stories Bernice likes to tell us. (Click Here to read that moving story.)

In Loretta, I have learned about generosity. I have realized that no matter how much a person has, he or she always has more to give. That no matter how much I have, I always have more to give. That no matter how rough life gets or how crummy a day gets, there is some way to give to someone else, some way to make another person’s day a little bit brighter. And we just all gotta do it. Just because. Just like Loretta. To give is really the only way to live.

Loretta Gaither
How This Class Helps Me

Last Wednesday, I was with a lady named Mrs. Seawell and she brought my clothes from my apartment to the senior center. I am homeless again.

Trying to get a new place to live.

Vicky, the senior director here, and her staff, tried to help me find a new place to live and they found a storage closet for my clothes until then. I am back in the shelter for now.

I have to wait for the shelter to find my new place. I have been in the shelter twice. Thank you Vicky and Bob and the other staff here at the senior center.

Right now, I am in our writing class so I feel a lot better and I also go to church to pray.

With all the people here in writing class being so nice, I forget about all the other difficult things going on in my life when I am here.

Thank you for everyone here for being so friendly and warm to me.

Loretta Gaither
A Bright Side Somewhere

I went to an Art Show and dinner where they were showcasing four of my art pieces- three shoes that I decorated and a mom and baby turtle set I made.

On the bus last weekend, I saw a lady crying so I went to sit next to her and gave her a hug. She said she was sad because she was homeless. The lady next to her told us that she was homeless too and they had a good heart-to-heart talk and we all felt better.

Later, I talked with people from the Diamond Shelter who are helping me find a safer environment. It reminds me of a Christian song, A Bright Side Somewhere For Us And We’ll Find It. I know I will a new home and I will not be homeless because God will show me where to go. I am like his clay and he’ll mold me back.

Loretta Gaither

Today I came to class on the bus and recognized a familiar face smiling at me. It was Joy, a friend from years ago. She was just a little girl then and she remembered me as soon as she saw me. Joy got into trouble when she was little and I helped her out and she never forgot about it. Joy is now a grandmother and told everyone on the bus how nice I was to her. Joy said that she turned her life around because of my talks with her. I taught all the kids to respect the elders and there were others that changed too.

I decided a long time ago to change too and bring positive thinking into my life. And today I remained calm while a younger worker at the vital statistics office treated me rudely. I found someone to help and was able to finish the application. I felt good to be calm and I know that starting today with God’s help, I will be in the senior apartments because I was able to change and have positive behavior. I know that positive thinking as you get older is very important.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Arthur (Life is So Wonderful)

Yeah, let’s stop and think a little bit. Sometimes it’s easy to forget to do that. Such sweet words by my bud Arthur.

Arthur Murray
Life is So Wonderful

When you stop and think a little bit, life is so sweet.  Lots of times we don’t really value it as much as we could.  When you stop and look at another person’s situation, some are happy, sad, troubled, mad, unhappy with their life but look at the bright side, we’re still here.  All we have to do is love one another much more.  The world is here for you and I.  My experience in life is loving each and every one because of the energy you get back is so great.  Love and this world is full of love and that is what the world needs is love and understanding.  Just let go.  With all the love you can give and cherish the love in return.

Keep up the good work.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Class Starts... Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is it! The first session of our 8-week “Our Best Day So Far” satellite class at Free Library of Philadelphia!!! Thinking about coming but maybe a teeny bit nervous? No problem! We were thinking it would help if we walk you through what to expect. Click Here to see our satellite blog, narrated by our teen intern Madi, as she shares how tomorrow is going to go… and how she was once in YOUR shoes! Yup, she started getting involved in our project like you, as a blogreader, then visitor, and now she is, a core part of our team! Now, how inspirational is that?  Come to class and ask Madi more about it when you see her tomorrow ;)

Quick reminder of the time and place: 4-5:30pm Parkway Central Branch Room 108. Be there be there be there - it's gonna be so much fun!!!

BTW major news break:  We officially hooked up our new satellite blog to Facebook, which means via Facebook you can read BOTH the original blog (this one here) and the satellite blog! Woohoo, digital conveniences rock!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Launch Party Photos!

Guaranteed to put a smile on your face: Launch Party photos are loaded up on Facebook and they are super fun! Below is a sneak peek. "Like" us on Facebook (click Here then press the "Like" button)  to see the full photo album. Thank you to photographer Mark Garvin (who is also our teen intern Madi's dad!) for capturing the spirit of the happy day.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hazel, Beatrice, Hattie (We Are Growing)

In the previous blog post, I shared about what last week’s Launch Party means to me. And now, I am excited to share some of our seniors’ reflections. I love how Hattie entitles her reflections, plain and simple: “We are growing.” I love how our seniors understand and believe that our original, still-ongoing class has the capacity to produce great changes well beyond our first classroom. And how Hazel talks about lasting “forever.”

I love how Beatrice says: “We are branching out.  We started small and we are reaching out to everyone on the internet.  My friends and family are very happy about this project.   They say it is the best thing and has the right title.”

It’s true: the title is right. The Best Day of My Life So Far. From day one, this project was a miracle. And every day, it just keeps getting better.

Stay tuned for even more Launch Party stories. “Like” us on Facebook to see them as they get posted and see event photos! And remember, the purpose of our event was to officially launch our upcoming 8-week multi-generational storytelling class, so please help us invite all the seniors AND teens you know! The party has just begun!

Hazel Nurse
Launch Party

The Story-Telling and Writing Class “Launch Party” at the Central Library on June 29th was well attended.

Throughout the program a huge video screen showed colorful photos of our activities.  Also, a tasty buffet of fruit, cheeses, crackers cake and cookies along with fruit drinks were enjoyed by all.

We listened to our hostess, Benita, welcome us and speak about our new satellite class – “Our Best Day so Far” as she described outreach and genuine efforts to sustain what we are doing and to have more events to last forever.

Dee, our lovely co-leader spoke about the intergenerational involvement in our lives.

A prominent member of our class, Beatrice emphasized the value of putting our experiences on paper.

The reading of Joe’s story and a most eloquent talk by Mr. Gordon were both welcome treats.
Following this, Madi (our teen intern), Amy (one of the co-leaders of the new satellite class), Grace (AARP Associate State Director) and other officials brought us up to date concerning “Our Best Day So Far” slated to begin in July for eight weeks, meeting at the Central Library.

Beatrice Newkirk
At The Library

Our class came to the Library.  We met there at half past one o’clock on June 29th.  We had lunch with the other people.  The program was very nice.  We met lots of friends.  The members of our class spoke.  Everyone liked what they heard.
Our pictures were on the screen.   We got a chance to hear from other people.  Everyone felt welcome.
We are branching out.  We started small and we are reaching out to everyone on the internet.  My friends and family are very happy about this project.   They say it is the best thing and has the right title.

Hattie Lee Ellerbe
We Are Growing

Yesterday, Wednesday June 29, 2011 was an exceptionally happy and exciting day.

Our writing class was invited to meet at the Main Library on the Parkway to meet with and share stories with various cultures, ages, and backgrounds, and to launch “Our Best Day So Far” –  an outreach initiative featuring a summer program. It was such a joy to hear from each participant. We were met there by Benita, Dee, Amy, and even a picture of our beloved Jill who recently moved to Australia. Many of the project’s volunteers were there and there were many expressions of love and appreciation.