Back in July I worked with Atlanta Magazine for their Groundbreaker awards. I met some fantastic people using their skills to make a change in their community but there was one shoot that left me with a different sense of hope than the others . It was also the shoot I dreaded doing.
The Giving Tree Intergenerational Program brings young children into assisted living homes. The day that I was able to schedule the shoot for was the day the children and Melissa Sorenson, the amazing music therapist who runs the program, would be in the memory unit. Now, my grandmother Margaret had Alzheimers and spent her final days in a nursing home. I have a lot of memories of her battling dementia and often have to battle tears anytime I'm in a nursing or assisted living home. So I mentally prepared myself and told my assistant, Wilder, that if I needed to duck away, part of his job was to cover me. As we walked in the unit there were the all too familiar scenes of glazed over eyes and frail bodies slumped in wheelchairs but we straightened our backs and got to work.
Have you ever been outside the moment before a storm starts? The energy seems to shift and your brain starts signaling to your body (or vice versa) that something is about to change. Your skin tingles and the hair on your arm raises. Now when those kids entered my skin didn't tingle and the hair on my arms didn't raise but I felt a shift in the room and sure enough, everything changed. The residents became alert as children strolled in. There were smiles and waves. As the music started it was nothing short of magic. I felt tears brimming my eyes but it wasn't the tears I had expected to hold in. The scene was so sweet and joyful that you couldn't help but smile and be grateful to witness it.
This is probably not the best photo I've ever taken but I can't seem to pull myself away from it. The moment is so sweet that I like to be reminded of it and I hope someday this is a program offered at all retirement homes. Congratulations to The Giving Tree and all the other people and programs being recognized!