Friday, November 30, 2012

Read, Share, Support!

This is the birthday card my senior buds gave me a few months ago. It takes a leader to really dare to dream, to really believe that dreams can come true. This is how I know my senior buds themselves are officially and completely leaders of the world.

Last night I wrote an email to my amazing volunteer team - and realized I
I wanted to share the note with you all too. Why is that, I thought. And then it dawned me - you, our wonderful readers who are locking eyes with me right now on the screen, are part of our greater team.

So, Team, let's rock this holiday fund drive. It's not that we want to grow. We NEED to grow.  Lives depend on us.

$5. $10. A quick repost of this link on Facebook.

Your dollars and reposts are all it takes to change lives. All it takes.

Read on to see how exactly your donations will be used.

Hi Team,

Hope you all had a good holiday. Just want to thank those of you who have made a donation to the campaign and spread the word about it. I love seeing your donations, reposts and emails - it all just honestly makes me so happy.

This campaign will allow us to provide guidance to other people, so they can do what we've done at Philadelphia Senior Center and at test venues including our model satellite co-hosted with AARP and Free Library of Philadelphia. We will provide guidance through fun and easy-to-use web tools and face-to-face neighborhood-focused events. Some of us on the team have worked nights and days to map out the tools and the only thing we're missing is funding. As soon as we have funding, we can start building the tools and soon share them with the public. These tools will allow what we have done together to last well beyond our times, and reach seniors in every single family in this country.

So, please consider spreading the word, and donating, if you haven't yet:

Lives depend on us. We have something special. Today, like every Thursday, I was reminded of that when I saw the happiness and strength on our seniors' faces. If we simply share what we know, we can save lives.

As usual, thank you so much for every little and often not so little ;) thing you do, it adds up to something too beautiful for words.
All my best, Benita

Monday, November 19, 2012

This Holiday - Honor a Senior in Your Life!

Hi Readers,

Looking for a creative way to honor a special senior in your life this holiday, or give back to your own neighborhood? Inspired by the smiles you see here and want to bring these smiles to even more faces? I can't be more excited to tell you about our "Give to Grow" expansion campaign!

People everywhere are asking and waiting for us to grow; but we cannot without your help. Please visit to find out how to take our program to YOUR neighborhood and dedicate your donation to a special someone. Also, every donation level will be rewarded with a thank you gift!

Our goal this holiday season is to raise $18,000 by Dec 31. Besides donating, we would love it if you could share this letter and the donation link with your friends and family.

Feel free to contact me directly at if you would like to talk more about our plans. We have a full plan in place but to put it into action, we really need your help.

Thank you so much.

And now... two stories to get you right into the holiday spirit. A tribute to fathers and mothers everywhere, on behalf of "children" of all ages.

Jean McCallum
What I Wish I Told My Dad

I wish I had told my Dad – “I appreciate everything you’ve done for me.” Thank you, Dad.

While my Dad was alive, I was a real spoiled brat – ingrate – and I spent a lot of time complaining about my Dad, and criticizing his parenting style. In reality, my Dad taught me how to ride a bike, how to drive a car, how to do gymnastics, and many other things. He also paid for a lot of lessons; guitar lessons, horseback-riding, and many other things. Most of all, no matter what was happening in our lives, my Dad always showed me that he loved me, treasured me, and believed in me.

Even though my Dad is gone now, the love and appreciation he gave me live on in my heart and encourage me to this day.  I want to say, “Thank you, Dad!” 

Gloria Washington
The Grandchildren Remembered

“Ring! Ring!” The happy sound of unexpected good tidings, surprise.

“I have a delivery for Mrs. Jefferson!” I shoot to the door. What awaits me is a huge profusion of floral splendor. Yellow daisies, purple iris, magenta hued and pale-whisper-white flowers in an elegant basket, arranged to show a profusion of color, scent and texture to dazzle the eye. The next day a repeat phone rings. Flowers beckon. This time a pale, motley display of luxe, lush, hot-house pink roses, lily-of-the-valley, and baby’ breath.

“Read the card Mommy.” The 18 great grandchildren and 9 grandchildren remembered the matriarch. The mother that spawned 3 generations: helped them through college, paved the way, taught them healthy nutritional habits and generally served as a role model for all kith and kin. Happy Birthday Mommy from all the grands. 

Help us spread even more happiness and love in the world with heartwarming stories like these. Thank you again for visiting and sharing our campaign page

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Joe (Spectacle)

I am bursting with excitement here at my laptop typing this, because next week my team and I are about to announce something huge. (Sign up Here to get the scoop - whether you are someone who wants to start talking with a grandparent, or a professional looking to bring our program to your center, you won't want to miss out!!)

If my relationship with my amazing grandma is chapter 1, and our original class and blog is chapter 2, next week is when we turn the page to chapter 3. The Best Day of My Life So Far story was once my story, but now it’s all of ours whose eyes are meeting here on the screen, and soon it will be a story shared by so many more of us.

Ours is not just a story about older people, it’s not just a story about stories. Ours is a story about community – about unity of our social, cultural, generational, technological diversity. We have created this community in the most genuine, heartfelt way we know how, because with that comes real happiness, real humanity, real histories. Ours is a story that is big and brave enough to push back on the more difficult parts of life, things like isolation, depression, loneliness. Ours is a story that takes diverse memories of the past, turn them into something alive and united for the present, and give it like a giant gift pack to future generations.

Thank you for helping us create this community. And now, let’s make sure this community grow. Let’s help real happiness, real humanity, real histories spread. Help us turn the page to Chapter 3.

Joe Garrison

I was on a cross-town bus a couple of days ago to do some shopping. I got on the bus. There was a person on the bus. Clearly, people were staring at him—I could tell even though I can't see. People must have been looking because of how loud he was. He sounded like he must have been inebriated. He was talking about how lonely he was.
He was saying it was the worst thing in the world for a man to be lonely and how he wished the Lord would send him a woman. Finally he moved towards the front of the bus and I felt relieved that he was getting off, because I felt a little embarrassed for him.

I am lonely too but I don't get on buses and shout it to the world.

The point of the story is, it's good to express feelings, but not to the extent that you make a spectacle of yourself. That’s why I am grateful for this class because I can express my feelings, whether they are happy or sad. Here I can use stories to relieve any loneliness and depression that I have. It is a great thing.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Beatrice (The Little Something I Kept Over the Years)

Beatrice Newkirk - 12 kids: 7 boys, 5 girls. 57 grands. 27 great grands, 2 greats on the way.
Note to self: when I am old, I will be sassy like Beatrice.

Beatrice and Bernice, her twin sister, have been a part of this class since its beginnings – they have truly become two of my best friends. Bernice brings out the tomboy in me; and I tell myself that when I am old, one thing I will be is sassy like Beatrice. Beatrice reminds me a lot of my grandma too - because of the sassiness they share, I've always thought. But when Beatrice told us this story last week, I realize there is one more thing in common to the women whom I admire so much. The ones who carry the brightest smiles are the ones who have risen above the deepest pains.

Beatrice Newkirk
The Little Something I Kept Over the Years

The something I kept over the years is a picture of my mother. She did not raise me. My mother left home when I was 5.

She left 7 boys and 3 girls. My baby brother was 1 and my oldest brother was 12.

I found my mother on Market St. My brothers found her first. There were so many things I wanted to know about her, so many questions I wanted to ask her. I was married and I had my first kids. I took her home with me. She left. Back on the streets.

The next time I saw her she was in Byberry - it's a mental hospital. She stayed there 17 years. That is where she died. I never got one word out of her during that time. All I wanted her to say was my name. I was named after her. I don't even know her birthday.

So I have the picture of her I carry  with me every day.

This is what one of our copyeditors wrote after typing up this story. Jesse lives in North Carolina.
Wow, absolutely heartbreaking. After reading this I want to give Beatrice a great big hug. - Jesse Antoszyk
Jesse: I will be sure to tell Beatrice you wrote that, and I would be happy to give her a hug for you ;)

Friday, November 2, 2012

Every Day and Every One

The Best Day of My Life So Far Writing Class
Every Day

Every day is a birthday.
Every class is a party.
Everyone is a survivor of one thing or another.

My senior buds and I were just chilling out and chatting yesterday. We always chat a little at the beginning of class. And suddenly one word after the next, we strung together a phrase. And one phrase after the next, we strung together a poem. And soon it was like a cheering fest of everyone repeating these lines one after another, louder and louder.

“Our creed!” Hattie said.

“Something to go by!” Greta said.

“Whoa!” Everyone got on their feet, canes and all.