Guest post by Sue Eleuterio, NWA Workshop Leader and Board Member
Too often we think of seniors in silence; perhaps sitting in a rocking chair or shuttled away from the everyday vibrancy of life. Members of the Jane Addams Senior Caucus gave a stirring demonstration on April 28 that seniors continue to engage in everything from international politics to documenting social injustice to sharing tender memories of significant places and people in their lives.
JASC and NWA partnered in a 12-week series of writing workshops under the guidance of NWA facilitator Rachel Javellana, and presented their work at a reading and celebration at the Caucus’s headquarters in Chicago. Supported in part by the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and the Chicago Foundation for Women, members of the Caucus met weekly and created a series of pieces accompanied by photos. There were a wide range of topics. A plea to Barack Obama, “Hey Mr. President, It’s Not Kosher,” by Al Klinger, echoed the concerns of many of the President’s supporters. A tender story about “Boy,” a duck who kept writer Ruth Long company on her visits to a local pond, was acted out energetically by Caucus member Judy Moses. Ms. Moses also provided a moving tribute to a friend who died of cancer titled “Dear Phyllis,” which underscored the sense of loss death brings no matter the age of the survivor.
Each of the writers (in addition to those mentioned: Audrey Douglas, Bob Doyle, Ann Marie Cunningham, Gene Horcher, Jessie Avraham, and Abel Keyes) introduced themselves to the audience through self-portraits which were occasionally funny, sometimes tragic, but always honest, and excellent examples of the value of being free to describe yourself instead of being relegated to a stereotype.
The Caucus’s goals of creating a “collective voice and common ground for affordable housing and improving in-home health care” were echoed in the writing from a personal perspective and equally importantly in the community created by the writers who participated in this program. Pieces from the workshop will be printed in a future edition of the Journal of Ordinary Thought—and one hopes that there will be additional partnerships between the Senior Caucus and NWA. The wit, energy, and enthusiasm of the writers as showcased in their work from the Caucus program are a great example to all writers no matter their age!