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Older adults tell their stories through Living Legacy Project

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Older adults who enroll in the Volunteers of America, Senior CommUnity Care (SCC), Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), are invited to be part of a program to work on telling their life story. Named the Living Legacy Project by SCC staff, the purpose is to share with others the participant's life through old photos, music, quotes, scriptures and other memorabilia and to record these moments on a video.

"The participants are delighted to have the opportunity to share with others their lives before they came to the PACE program," said Anne Johnson, certified therapeutic recreation specialist for the PACE programs. "We take time to learn about each participant's life, discover what was important and special to them throughout the various phases of their life, and pull it all together into a beautiful presentation they can show family and friends. It opens up discussion and helps us reach a level of trust and understanding with our participants."

These video compilations can take a few weeks to organize and SCC recreation staff will spend time in the participant's home, assisting them in choosing photographs, scrapbook items, or other keepsakes that they would like included in the final piece.

"This is a true labor of love," Johnson said. "We thoroughly enjoy helping the participants with their project and want them to know this is about them -- focusing on sharing their purpose in life and realizing the legacy they have created and continue to create."

The computer equipment currently being used to create the Living Legacy videos is outdated and the SCC recreation staff requested that this year's central fundraising efforts be focused on providing new and updated hardware and software for the project.

"The fundraising committee unanamiously voted to raise funds for the Living Legacy Project this year," Tai Blair, marketing manager, said. "There is no greater happiness than watching a participant view his or her video for the first time. The joy created is priceless."

Fundraising efforts have been underway since June with the free outdoor concert series, Music on the Green. The free concert is held the last Friday of each month -- June through August -- on the lawn behind the SCC PACE day center and The Homestead at Montrose assisted living community.

"The venue is perfect for an outdoor concert," Blair said. The Homestead at Montrose has a covered patio with tables and chairs, plus a pergola where the musicians set up underneath and which becomes their stage. Concert goers can bring their own chairs and blankets and sit wherever they like on the lawn. We sell hamburgers and hot dogs plus other snacks like nachos and root beer floats with all proceeds going to the Living Legacy Project. Donation jars are also available at the concert for anyone who doesn't wish to purchase food, but still wants to help out our cause."

The free concert series' final performance will be on Friday, Aug. 28, featuring Donny Morales, who is an accomplished guitarist, harmonica player and vocalist from Olathe. "We expect there will be a good-sized attendance for Donny," Blair said. "He is very popular and we are excited to be wrapping up our season with such a talented musician."

The PACE model is centered on the belief that the well-being of seniors with chronic care needs are better served by providing health care and supportive services that enable them to remain living in their home whenever possible. There are three PACE day center locations (Montrose, Eckert and Paonia). The PACE Day Center is a physical location where medical and support services are provided to participants in addition to individual and group social activities. PACE serves individuals who are age 55 or older, certified by their state to need nursing home care, are able to live safely in the community at the time of enrollment, and live in a PACE service area.

To make a donation toward the Living Legacy Project or for more information about Senior CommUnity Care, contact Tai Blair, SCC Marketing Manager at (970) 901-7768 or TaBlair@voa.org.

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