Center for the Development of Arts Leaders: Goddard House Update

Hello from CalTeamDelta!!! We are Maddie, Tiffany, Dante, John and Will. This past year we have been working at the Goddard House, an assisted living facility in Brookline as part of From the Top’s Year-Long Arts Leadership Program.

From L to R: Dante Velasquez, John Carney, Williams Hess, Tiffany Cheng, Madeline Bauer, and Mike Dahlberg (mentor)

“What are you doing at an assisted living facility?” one might ask. What probably pops into your head is kids playing for elderly people who are half listening, maybe sleeping. This is not at all what our project is about.

Arts leaders Tiffany, Will and Maddie with residents at The Goddard House

After visiting the Goddard House more than 25 times this year, we have really gotten to know and love the residents on a personal level. We started out by addressing the needs of Goddard House and what we could learn from and contribute to their community. They key word being community. We tried to look through the eyes of the residents and really try to imagine what life is like for them; how they are adjusting to being without their families, growing older and being in a new, unfamiliar setting.

Arts leaders Maddie, John and Tiffany leading a music circle with residents

Starting out as informal concerts in the library, our weekly interactions with the residents have grown into impromptu group sing-a-longs and extended conversations. Our music has been a means for us to learn about the residents as people and as a way to connect with a generation so different than our own. To take our relationships with the residents to another level, we decided to interview them to learn even more about their lives and musical experiences.

16 yr-old arts leader, Maddie, shares a powerful moment:

My first interview was with Floyd, a 100-year-old resident. Not only is his age remarkable, but his interesting life stories. One of the highlights from my experience at the Goddard House  was when Floyd shared his  life-long passion for dancing.  “I wasn’t sure if you would be interested in these, but I brought them,” he said in his deep, rough voice as he pulled out three pictures from his walker. I looked at them in awe. These pictures included him dancing with his wife as a young man, and him dancing at his 100th birthday party at the Goddard House. Through these pictures, I was able to witness that if you have a passion, it can transcend age and time. To see a man as old as Floyd feel joy from doing what he loves reminded me to always appreciate the music that I play and interact with on a daily basis. It was at this moment that I realized that age and time don’t matter.  If you can pursue your passions, then you find happiness wherever you go. This moment gave meaning to the interviews and this unspoken lesson will stick with me when I am as old as Floyd and able to appreciate the violin.

Want to meet these inspiring arts leaders and learn more about their work at the Goddard House? Come to the Boston Class of 2011 Final Exhibition on January 21st, where you will learn more about From the Top’s Center for the Development of Arts Leaders and meet four other teams who have spent the past year using their music to make a difference.