Thursday, September 8, 2016

Beatrice, Gloria, Valerie, Norman (Mutual Appreciation Club)

Our participants come up with the most creative ways to describe the feeling of being at a Best Day storytelling session. Sometimes I hear myself describing in our sessions as weekly gatherings where older adults, volunteers and visitors from the local community relax around a table to hear older adults' life stories - our participants come up with way cooler descriptions than mine.

I was just talking to Norman yesterday, and we started saying, "Thank you so much," "No, thank YOU so much," on and on like that, for what each other has done to kept the group running strong. We laughed so hard.

Eventually he said, "We can go back and forth like that all day... We are the Mutual Appreciation Club." 

So much cooler than my description, right? That really brings out the heart and soul of the gatherings. It's not just about the stories. It's always about the love, joy and diversity in the room. Here are a few more ways they have described the Best Day experience, all of which are perfect. 

"We are like a family. Or like a rainbow."
Beatrice Newkirk
Our Writing Class       

Our writing class is the place to see and be.  We do things together.  Everyone has a good time.  We listen to everyone’s stories.  Some are read out loud.  Some members talk about what they had written.  After everyone reads or tells their story, our pictures are taken.  We missed last week but we always make up what we missed.  Because of the storm, we were not here.  Everyone who comes to our class is from different places.  They come from different neighborhoods.  The stories I hear are very interesting.  We are like a family. Or like a rainbow.  To the writing class, I love all of you.  I miss everyone until the next meeting.

"A ritual of words. A unified crescendo of what makes this city and country great."

Gloria Washington
Magic Circle

Every time I sit at the oval table in our sun drenched, book laden room I am transported.

The myriad voices enthrall me.  Tales of history, pathos, and ingenuity…Nuggets of golden stories I would never know of otherwise. 

Secrets of the entertainment business, Philly’s diverse ethnic stories from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s are offered as well as true moments of accomplishment from my fellow literary travelers.  I am in awe and silenced.  I think about these stories often while traversing the city or in quiet moments alone. 

They move me and make me think.  I am adding a new dimension to my “lens” on the cities multi-ethnic neighborhoods. 

Sometimes the musings are quite cerebral, a nod to my fellow theatre member.  Other times they are funny, poignant, who knew these things about Atlantic City?

Each voice carries weight.  Separately they are strong reminders of our past.  Together they are a unified crescendo of what makes this city and country great.

And hovering incandescently is the fairy that facilitates it all.

I am honored to be a part of this ritual of words.

"This is community. Wonderful, wonderful community. A place where all are known, all are celebrated."

Valerie Dolphin
A Guest’s Impression of the Writing Group

When I enter a room and every one applauds, I like it. I assume everyone does.  So my first impression of the writers group is one of acceptance and joy. A community of self assured writers. Though there is little sophistication here, there is plenty of raw joy.  Each person knows the other, and celebrates who they are. They know each other through the stories they write, the stories they have listened to. There are no rules here. One doesn’t even have to write, but nearly everyone does….who doesn’t want the applause…and more than the applause, who doesn’t want their story heard.  This is community. Wonderful, wonderful community. A place where all are known, all are celebrated.