3 weeks ago
As we well know in our community and others across the world, the pandemic had crushing impacts on those in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Roadside Theater is collecting residents’ stories and bringing art directly to those in assisted living through intergenerational workshops within assisted living facilities in our central Appalachian region – specifically Knott and Letcher counties.
In these workshops, residents will make music, write poetry, share talents, or simply come together to enjoy a show and the company of others. We will also host story circles, curating an intimate space where residents can share stories from their past; stories of hope, of endurance, of hardship, from an increasingly-bygone era. Roadside will also record interviews with storytellers about their recent life experiences, contributing to a more nuanced, first-person account of this vulnerable population’s lives through the COVID-19 pandemic, stories which are vital to a greater understanding of this global, cataclysmic event, one which will be endlessly studied and discussed.
Hear from Tiffany Turner, a member of the Roadside Ensemble, about why this project is so important, and how our bonds with our older generations are one of the most vital things we have:
"Before my hobby as a community organizer became my career, I was a full-time nurse, and often worked in long term care and assisted living, a role I adored. My residents were always the highlight of my day. They often shared stories about their lives; about their careers, raising families, the places and people they’d grown up among.
One of my favorite residents was Louise, a 103 year old retired school teacher who would roll up and down the halls in her wheelchair. Every day, she would ask when my payday was, and reminded me the importance of saving money; specifically claiming that I should be saving a quarter per pay period––money she claimed was important for a rainy day.
Now, when I see a quarter, I think of Louise. Residents’ stories were so vast and wonderful and emotionally powerful. Some were happy and filled with laughter, others brought tears to my eyes. Every anecdote or memory shaped my life in some way and allowed me to feel connected to a generation before mine.
Myself and the other members of Roadside Theater are currently fundraising for our Assisted Living Storytelling Project, where we will join a series of local youth teaching artists and visit long term care facilities in and surrounding Letcher County to lead creative workshops, collect stories, interview residents, and further our community work with the people in these facilities.
We are partnering with Fund For The Arts to fundraise money to make this project possible. We are hoping to raise $8,130 to support this project, and through the generosity of the Fund For the Arts’ Artsmatch program–their organization will match every dollar we raise with a donation of their own. Roadside Theater prioritizes arts accessibility, and community-driven, first-voice storytelling, and believe this project is valuable to providing arts opportunities to people in nursing homes while also preserving their stories in their own words."
– Tiffany Turner, Performing our Future Organizer, Roadside Ensemble