Thursday, October 19, 2017

Are You Benita? (Loretta D.)

In 2009 when The Best Day of My Life So Far first began in the basement of the Philadelphia Senior Center, Benita was running the sessions. Best Day had gained several facilitators over the years, but Benita had always been the Lead Facilitator. New members would enter the Center and see the day's schedule written on a whiteboard. Every Thursday it would say some variation "1:00 Room B 'The Best Day of My Life (So Far)' Storytelling; Benita."
In 2013, Benita gave birth to Kian and had his younger brother Jett in 2015. She also moved to New Jersey, which made coming to Best Day that much more difficult. Even before Benita had her first child, she wanted to expand Best Day across the United States. As she transitioned from Lead Facilitator to Fearless Leader Behind the Scenes, she trained and assisted as new volunteers like Jana, Jada, Jen, Kira, Mary, Rachel, Hannah, Allison, Cassie, Neha, Kadambari, Kara and myself compiled the older buds stories.

Time had passed, and a lot of us shared the baton of Lead Facilitator for various weeks. I was usually the one running the sessions, but the whiteboard didn't change. So every time someone new came in, they'd ask "Are you Benita?" I'd say no and they'd look confused and disappointed. Fortunately, Loretta D. and I got the whiteboard issue taken care of. Next week, I'll be having new older buds ask me "Are you Caitlin?" instead.

Loretta Dotson 
The Window

Sometimes, I sit at my window looking out and watching people pass by. The weather dictates their pose usually. I like guessing if they’re going to work and running late or if they’re meeting friends for a meal or a movie. When they have little ones in tow are they taking them to grandmoms or to pre-school? Maybe they’re coming here? Oh no, please not today, I am enjoying the quiet. I love the spring having a daily personal record of budding flowers and grass blades protruding with promises of nature’s beauty is amazing. The summer, hot, humid, muggy, thank God for air conditioning and high powered fans then come the fall. Leaves turning beautiful colors. So lovely. Then, winter is here. Sleet, snow, high howling winds. Just thinking about it makes me shiver. So on the days when I remain home and my chores are completed, I can usually be found sitting on the window sipping coffee or Pepsi, watching the people and the seasons. You’re welcome to join me.

The Story Cure in Erie, PA came and went, but you can read Kaitlin Kortonick's (Best Day's Community Engagement Director) recap here. Also, you can read Story Cure's writing here since we're talking about all the different places we work with.

Don't forget, on October 29th Best Day's Benita Cooper will be giving a lecture at the Perkins Center for the Arts' "Before I Die" Event. It starts at 3:15 and the address is 30 Irvin Avenue, Collingswood, NJ 08108.

And on November 9th Best Day will be having its Center City Philadelphia Happy Hour at the City Tap House. That starts at 6PM and the address is 2 Logan Square, Philadelphia, PA 19103. City Tap House is actually very close to my job, so you can meet me in person. We can even do some Happy Hour Senior Selfies!
Curated by Caitlin Cieri