Reflecting on their Lives
By Tyler Weaber
“It is so interesting to see residents faces light up when their story is brought to life by the talented actors,” says Resident Services Assistant, Melissa Halvin about our new creative journey workshop that Londonderry Village offers for its residents.
Throughout the years, Londonderry Village has had a very close working relationship with the Mount Gretna Theater. Each year LV is a sponsor of one of their big summer shows. In return, the theater provides us with several free tickets to give out to our residents. Mount Gretna Theaters previous Director, Joe Giardina approached our Director of Marketing, Jessica Miller and our Director of Development, Lisa Thomas about a new way for us to collaborate. Joe suggested they offer a creative journey workshop for our Independent Living residents to tell a story from their life.
The creative journey workshop is open to all residents. They meet once a week for 5 weeks straight. Janice Gunnels, who is a teaching artist and freelance actor for the Mount Gretna Theater leads our residents in this workshop. Each time they meet, she begins the sessions with a fun activity to loosen our residents up. She then proceeds to give them writing prompts. Some of the topics she has asked our residents to write about were things such as writing about an inanimate object that meant something to them in their lives, or describing their best/worst day they remember as a child. Janice’s charismatic and warm personality helps our residents feel at ease and be able to open up. They put pen to paper and create art. Each session brings anywhere from 10-15 residents who want to tell their own story. “It’s wonderful to see the residents writing improve after each session. Our residents absolutely love Janice.” Says Melissa.
At the end of the workshop, our residents submit their stories to Janice. She has them all collated and put into a portfolio which is then presented to the resident at the end of the program. After the 5 weeks of working, actors from the theater come in and bring the residents’ stories to life on stage.
Londonderry Village has just completed their third workshop with the theater. A new workshop will start up in the fall. Any resident interested in joining should contact Resident Services Assistant, Melissa Halvin to get more information on this fun experience. She can be reached at 717-838-5406 ext. 3048.