Success Story: Elder Memoirs Program Returns

Our June Success Story (also featured in our e-mail newsletter) is all about the return of Midcoast Literacy’s Elder Memoirs program in the past year.

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Elder Memoirs pairs seniors in the community with volunteer memoir coaches to create individualized “My Life Story” collections made up of short written pieces. MCL originally launched our Elder Memoirs program in 2018, led by then Executive Director Don Lader. But like many projects working with older adults, it had to be put on the shelf in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Last fall, Elder Memoirs started its comeback as we partnered with The McKeen Center for the Common Good at Bowdoin College in Brunswick to train a cohort of Bowdoin student volunteers to be memoir coaches. During the spring semester, three local seniors were paired with Bowdoin students and worked with them to complete personal legacy documents. The three of them each created a very different final memoir, and this month, the seniors are being presented with an archival copy of their personal history produced by Midcoast Literacy. 

After this successful first step back, the Elder Memoirs program is set to grow in the year ahead. This spring, MCL trained nine volunteers from Harpswell Aging at Home to become memoir coaches, extending the reach of the program into that community as well. "We're excited to partner with Midcoast Literacy and bring this program to older people in Harpswell," said Gayle Hays, one of the volunteers. "The older population should be supported in writing down memories to share with loved ones. What a gift!!” Paring with seniors in Harpswell is already underway and some will have completed a personal legacy document by the end of the summer. 

Congratulations to all the volunteers who have helped get our re-launched Elder Memoirs program off to such a promising start, and keep following us for more success stories from our tutors throughout the year!