Friday, March 15, 2013

Gloria, Gogo, Norman, Beatrice (A Group Like Ours)

I feel like one of the loveliest parts of this project is that at every given moment in time, it is both larger than life and can be 
tucked right inside each of our hearts.

Pen. Paper. 1 hour a week. 1 table. And suddenly something big and
 beautiful started growing, and the bigger it gets, the more precious it becomes.

This is a big year for Best Day, as we gear up towards our national
 expansion. Our seniors and regular younger attendees have been writing braver stories than ever before: What advice can we give to others around the country who want to start a group like ours?

And to me, these stories are in some ways the most precious. The most tuckable. Words we can keep with us in our hearts and backpockets forever and forever.


For more Best Day advice and “secrets” email us at to tell us what you'd like to know! Your questions will be instrumental in helping us create our first ever Training Guide, so you too can use storytelling to connect with others in your life. To get up to date progress on our guide, check out Facebook and Twitter.


Gloria Washington, Regular Attendee
And Daughter of Aileen Washington, Senior
Our Advice to Others

Everyone has a voice and every voice is equally important in our circle.

What kind of person does it take to facilitate a group like this…
(MOST IMPORTANT) They can’t be a pedophile and didactic.
They can’t assume they are smarter or better than the group.
They must make no assumptions because of race, speaking style, or outward appearances.
They must not try to lead, only gently guide.  Senior citizens are very independent (often) and opinionated.  Do no treat them like pets or children, or the class will revolt.
Often the participants are savvier in way than the facilitator.  MUST BE a Democratic collaborative process!!

Gogo Jenny Williams
Our Advice to Others

Anyone can sit around a table and tell stories. But our group is about more than just stories. There is a real interest in the people in the class. There’s a feeling of partnering among the group. You feel that you matter. There’s such excitement in sharing with the group. We’re in the same page in coming together.

Initially, I was a little unsure of what to expect, because I’m new here at the center. My best friend introduced me to the class. I fit right in.

We’re nudged to stay focused. So there is structure.

We encourage each other. I’m encouraged to write after I leave the structure of this setting.

It takes a special person to be able to lead a group like this. A person inspired to use their God given talent to meet the challenges of a diverse group of people. The ability to listen, the art of making each person a part of the group.

There’s a change in me. Now I’m waking up from a deep sleep called procrastination.

I’ve told my family they are quite pleased that I’m online. My stories are getting read.

Norman Cain
Our Advice to Others

Our group is a meeting of the minds. It gives participants a vehicle that reveres storytelling – a given – that has been with us since the beginning of time. Hearing stories from around the world. I look forward to that. When I first came to the group, I was nervous. The feeling faded rapidly because the group was sincere and personal. During our hour of class we chat for 10 minutes, write for 15 minutes and begin to read. Sometimes conversations about various subjects ensue. At the end of class we take pictures and shoot videos.

Our program differs from other senior programs because it’s a democracy. While the final voice is that of Benita, there is no hierarchy. Anyone facilitating such a group needs the following qualifications:
    •    People person
    •    Organization
    •    Adept in Public Relations
    •    Dedication
    •    A facilitator must mediate projects, both long and immediate goals, and be prepared to meet continually possible funding.

This program has helped me tremendously. It is the first organization that I have been a part of in over 50 years. Even loners need talk that they can feel comfortable around. I now look forward to being around this group of people. The fact that our stories are being told world-wide via the web site makes me feel great because it is a way of dispelling myths across cultures and people whose age range varies.

Beatrice Newkirk
Our Advice for Others

We are special because we are like a family. We are made up of different people. We feel close to each other. We learn from others.

Coming back every week is a blessing. Being away, we can’t wait until the next time.

I feel comfortable when I hear from other members. And I can’t wait to see new people and hear their stories.

We care and respect everyone. Everyone is welcome to our class.

The kind of person having a class like our writing class has to have experience and has to have been through something. That is our teacher Benita.

My daughter and family get a kick out of our class. They see our stories on the internet and sometimes it relates to them.

Our class is special because we are like a family.